Pulse https://pulseapp.com/ Pulse is a cash flow management app for tracking and evaluating your business's income and expenses. en-us Fri, 26 Jun 2020 10:50:33 -0500 Fri, 26 Jun 2020 10:50:33 -0500 5 Ways to Use Cash Flow Projection to Scale Growth https://pulseapp.com/blog/ways-business-owners-can-use-cash-flow-projection-to-scale-growth Wed, 24 Jun 2020 10:48:00 -0500 simplefocus https://pulseapp.com/blog/ways-business-owners-can-use-cash-flow-projection-to-scale-growth Small business owners have limited cash flow and want to optimize it to scale. But without proper cash flow or clear models, it can be hard to determine how much you really have to spend on growth. Cash flow projection can help you see your resources and options clearly.

Prep your cash flow projection

Before you can begin driving growth, you need to understand where your finances are. This means you should be able to map out your current income and expenses on a spreadsheet or cash flow software so that you can clearly and easily make edits and visualize the data.

Some data points to consider are:

  • Deposits and payments
  • Payroll
  • Loan payments
  • Dividends
  • Expected future income or losses


Using Cash Flow Projection to Scale Your Business

Once you have your basic cash flow set up, you can begin playing with the numbers. Creating these projections or models can help you pinpoint how your decisions today will affect tomorrow’s cash flow. You can use this information to develop strategies to secure and scale your business.

We suggest that you keep your projections in a 12-month time frame in order to better grasp the long-term effects of potential decisions.

With that said, these are our top five ways you can use cash flow projection to grow your business:


1. Buying new equipment or adding a new location

One of the first and easiest ways to use cash flow projection is to establish whether or not you can afford to buy new equipment or add a new location.

In order to do this, you need to understand your reliable income, how long it will take you to save for the new additions, and whether you need to establish a line of credit or take on a new client.

To do this, you would simply add an additional one time expense for the initial purchase. If you are adding a new location, you will also need to increase your operating costs. Once this is done, you can see how much cash flow you have leftover and estimate whether it is enough or if there is anywhere else you can save.

Alex Bernier of Real Eyes Displays checks his cash flow projection with Pulse to make decisions. “I update it and change it about twice a year. Or I look at it if I need to hire or buy equipment. I can play with the numbers and really see what I can pay.”


2. Launching a marketing campaign or new product

Marketing or sales campaigns are other factors you can test in your cash flow projections. When it comes to marketing, it can be difficult to find out how much you can actually budget.

Using your cash flow projection, you can easily monitor your cash flow and account for different marketing channels. As if you were adding equipment, you can add an additional expense for each marketing channel you are interested in using and set an initial budget for each.

For example, let’s say you want to spend $1,000 a month to promote your new product. You can add a repeating expense for three months and see how it affects your cash flow.

However, you may have some expectations of sales based on how much you’re spending, so you will also want to add potential income. You can also adjust the timing and the amount of expected income to match the best- and worst-case scenarios.

Perhaps the first month of marketing will be leading up to product launch and you won’t expect any sales until the next month. Using the cash flow projection, you can more accurately see when you can expect to make that money back.

You can use the same method to plan a product launch and estimate costs and possible returns or losses.


3. Setting prices and managing clients

Should you raise your prices? The possibility of losing customers or pricing yourself out of the market is a genuine fear.

If you’ve already got your cash flow mapped out, you can easily change the numbers to reflect new prices to estimate your profit. If, for example, you increase your price for one product or service by 10%, will you need to sell less? What would be the loss if you can’t match your sales target?

Jimmy Semaan, managing director of Club Unique uses projections regularly to review their finances. “It’s vital for us to project how much money is coming in and from which clients. We can check everything from who pays late to how many contracts we have. And of course, we can use projections through PulseApp to find ways to increase our cash flow.”


4. Hiring employees and contractors

A critical decision for any business is when to hire and how much to pay.

Cash flow projection can help you add the expense for hiring, salary, and other employee-related expenses like uniforms or health insurance. But don’t forget—you are taking on a new employee because you are growing or plan to scale. So you also need to add additional income streams.

In a downturn, you may also have to estimate how long you can hold onto your employees before resorting to layoffs.

You may also be able to compare contractor work as opposed to hiring full-time employees.

For example, let’s say you want to hire a contractor to build a website to sell your product online. You have two options: The first is charging $1,000 and will finish in a month, meanwhile the second is only charging $500 but it will take them two months. You are estimating $3000 in sales the first month based on a trial run and customer canvassing. The second option appears more affordable, but is it worth losing a month of potential sales?


5. Surviving a crisis

One of the most important reasons for regularly checking your cash flow projections is to protect against a crisis. According to a 2016 JPMorgan Chase report, small- to mid-size enterprises only have enough cash flow to cover 27 days of operations, and the top 25% only have two months of cash in reserves.

As we’ve seen with COVID-19, it can sometimes take much longer than two months to keep open.

With cash flow projection, you can easily see what would happen if your income suddenly dropped—and protect against it. You can do this by adding an additional expense for “emergency preparedness,” and begin saving for an eventual downturn. It may decrease your daily cash flow, but at least you’d have a safeguard against unexpected catastrophe.

Some decisions cash flow projection can help you make in a downturn are:

  • Which expenses you can safely cut
  • How much cash you can hold onto if you delay payments
  • What you need to cut to keep your employees onboard longer
  • Experimenting with more affordable suppliers


Cash flow projection is easier than you think

Creating a cash flow projection should be easy. There’s no need to check it every day—although you can and many of our customers do. Modeling your cash flow can help you make major decisions with more confidence than you would with just the general profit numbers. From buying new equipment to launching products and surviving a business crisis, cash flow projection is one more tool that can help you safeguard and scale your business.


Next steps

If you need clarity on your business’s financial forecast, start a free trial (we’ve temporarily extended it 3 months to support businesses during the Coronavirus).

90-Day Free Trial

No credit card required

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4 Ways Small Businesses can Connect with Consumers During COVID-19 & Beyond https://pulseapp.com/blog/4-ways-small-businesses-can-connect-with-consumers-during-covid-19-beyond Wed, 20 May 2020 09:09:00 -0500 simplefocus https://pulseapp.com/blog/4-ways-small-businesses-can-connect-with-consumers-during-covid-19-beyond While there are many uncertainties for businesses during and after COVID-19, one thing is clear: Many businesses need to change or risk failure. By the end of March, 60 major retailers—with more than 50,000 physical retail locations— had closed temporarily and a survey from Main Street America concluded that 7.5 million businesses were at risk of permanent closure. While consumers are spending less overall, they are buying up to 30% more online.

As more and more states allow businesses to reopen, albeit, with nuanced restrictions, it’s not quite business as usual. In order to stay afloat, many small businesses had to innovate and find a way to survive in this new normal. From shifting online to readjusting their cash flow, business owners have drastically changed their operations.

Going forward, business owners will have to continue to strive to find new ways to connect with consumers on increasingly tight budgets. The good news? There are many creative methods to consider.

1. Rethink delivery

    The key to survival for businesses is ensuring cash flow into the business. This alone has driven companies to find ways to continue to serve customers despite lockdowns. For retail shops, this can mean turning to eCommerce or curbside pickups. For restaurants, this has resulted in taking online orders, increasing takeaway meals, or offering home deliveries.

    Consumers are likely to be on guard and less interested in going out. So the easier you can make the delivery, the better. Not only is this approach customer-focused, but it will reduce foot traffic at your physical location without sacrificing revenue. For businesses required to operate at 25% or 50% capacity, changing up how you deliver your final product can level the playing field.

    For those concerned with handling limited capacity, you can consider creating a pre-paid reservation system to make everything run smoothly. Black Sheep Restaurant in Hong Kong has created a COVID-19 Playbook that details all of their procedures from delivery to cost management.

    2. Embrace the digital world

      For many retailers, adding an eCommerce option can allow them to move inventory, increase cash reserves, and reconnect with customers. But opening an online store isn’t the only way to boost cash flow.

      Events that might have been held live on location can be turned into exclusive live streams. Take online fitness lessons as an example. Many fitness businesses, such as Downtown Yoga in Memphis, Tennessee, have turned to virtual sessions to revive their revenue streams. For other service-oriented businesses, you can offer free or discounted consultations through Zoom or Skype.

      Expanding your digital marketing plan is another way of using social distancing to your advantage. You can invest in content marketing with blogs, email lists, and outreach on social media to bring more awareness to your business and promote deals.

      3. Create unique, reoccurring offers

        COVID-19 has altered consumer behavior, and even as business appears to return to normal, this new mindset will likely stick around. Stockpiling and seeking out savings are and will continue to be top priorities for your customers. How can you rearrange your business model to appeal to this mindset? There are a few options:

        • Memberships
          Create a custom, reoccurring package to ensure long-term cash flow while providing customized service. Using a subscription model, you can offer a certain amount of meals per week, exclusive perks like free monthly products, or form partnerships with other businesses to provide unique packages. Since memberships are an ongoing service, this is an excellent way to stabilize your business income.

        • Gift cards
          If you can’t reopen right away or you're waiting on new inventory, you can allow your customers to buy gift cards—online or offline, even at a discounted rate. Providing this option gives you some immediate capital without sacrificing service.

        • Renting
          Instead of relying on sales, is it possible to rent your products? While this may require extra sanitization efforts when items are returned, it can be an excellent revenue source. Like the membership option, renting out equipment or products can provide a regular revenue stream while you reorganize. Owners of Cyclebar East Cobb, a cycling studio in Marietta, Georgia, allowed customers to rent stationary bikes to stay fit during the lockdown.

        4. Ask consumers what they need

          Don’t forget, you can always survey your community to discover new ways to pivot. Do this by connecting with your customers, employees, and suppliers through social media or even just calling them. One example is Lively Run Dairy, where the owners realized that they could buy excess milk and make cheese to donate to food banks, rather than let farmers dump it. They turned to GoFundMe to help fund their idea — and it worked. Within a day they had met their goal of $20,000.

          Simply keying into consumer wants and needs during this time can help you discover new ways to stay connected and retain customers—even if you aren’t breaking the bank.

          Working towards recovery

          COVID-19 is pushing businesses to evolve faster than ever, and by the time stores officially reopen, it’s likely consumers will have become accustomed to a more virtual—and more personalized—experience. Many of the solutions that will help you stay in touch with your customers are not only short-term measures but can become long-term revenue streams.

          Before you can decide which path is right for you, evaluate your cash flow so you’ll have a clear understanding of where you can afford to spend.




          Photo credit: vector created by pikisuperstar - www.freepik.com

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          How to (Quickly!) add eCommerce to your Business Strategy https://pulseapp.com/blog/how-to-quickly-add-ecommerce-to-your-business-strategy Mon, 11 May 2020 11:17:00 -0500 simplefocus https://pulseapp.com/blog/how-to-quickly-add-ecommerce-to-your-business-strategy Thanks to COVID-19 and social distancing, small businesses are revising their business strategies with new ways to maintain stability. For many, that has meant turning their brick-and-mortar operations towards eCommerce.

          Despite the fact that between 80%-90% of consumers expect a recession in the upcoming year, Americans are spending up to 30% more through online shopping. In the USA alone, retail online revenue has increased by more than 100% compared to the same time last year.

          The fact is, eCommerce is quickly becoming a viable—if not necessary—income stream for businesses worldwide. For example, Carmel City Center, a downtown shopping destination in Carmel City, Indiana, recently developed an eCommerce site for its tenants to help them keep selling. One of their tenants, a floral shop called Rusted Window, now receives 70% of their orders from the website.

          But how can small businesses pivot into eCommerce—and do so quickly—with budget constraints and uncertainty?

          Keep reading for everything you need to know to successfully add eCommerce to your business strategy.


          Evaluate your resources

          If you’ve never sold online before, understanding what is required matters more than ever. In addition to setting up a virtual shop (and a website if you don’t already have one), you’ll need to plot out your current cash flow and possibly find a functioning manufacturer and a shipment method.

          If you haven’t already, you should reassess your financial resources and adjust to the crisis. Understanding your financial state not just for now—but five, eight months down the road—will help you decide not only the best eCommerce platform for you but also how you can market online.

          While spreadsheets are useful, a cash flow management software will save you time and allow you to model out different scenarios—so you can see what each option will actually cost your business. For example, you can quickly plug in how expected income and expenses from running an eCommerce shop would affect your bottom line. This will be crucial when you are trying to decide how you want to sell online.

          After you’ve looked at your cash flow, it’s important to look at the offline mechanics. Domestic shipping methods aren’t seeing drastic interruptions, but if you previously worked with an international manufacturer or supplier, you may need to look into negotiating a contract with a local provider. Otherwise, the purpose of setting up a shop will be to get rid of as much inventory as possible and keep the cash flowing.

          Beyond Google and local references, some domestic supplier and manufacturer databases are:

          Once you understand your limitations in terms of inventory and capital, you can focus on the next piece: What should you sell?


          Decide your selling strategy

          COVID-19 hasn’t just increased online shopping, it’s changed it. You don’t just need a niche—you need to align your business with high-selling products.

          Baby products, sports and fitness equipment, beauty products, and grocery items have become popular eCommerce items. Even if your business is not related to these industries, is there a way to link your product to something else that is selling? Would it be possible to create a partnership with a company that sells these products to create unique packages?

          And it’s not just product popularity that has shifted—generations also differ when it comes to spending online. For example, 54% of Millennials say that the pandemic has affected their spending —compared to 33% of Baby Boomers. Depending on your consumer base, you may need some extra buzz to encourage customers to buy.

          You may want to consider creating items exclusive to the online store or providing discounts for larger orders. If you’ve already modeled out your cash flow, you can better define how much of a discount you can give without taking on a major loss.


          Set up shop

          Once you know what you plan to sell—you can finally focus on setting up your eCommerce site. There are really two options, and they depend on your current financial situation.

          For those just starting up and already have low capital, it may be better to start with a third party platform that only takes a slice of the sale compared to a monthly subscription—such as Amazon, Etsy, or eBay. You may even be able to arrange orders on Facebook for pickup delivery if you’re really low-tech. For businesses using WordPress, WooCommerce is technically a free solution—with optional paid extensions—that is relatively easy to set up.

          But if you have a bit more wiggle room, you can sign up with a proper eCommerce platform so you can have a branded store. This can mean setting up shop with comprehensive platforms like Shopify or BigCommerce, both of which charge a $29/month fee for their basic plans. For smaller businesses, Squarespace and Square Online Store offer more affordable plans at $18 and $12 dollars a month respectively. The Square Online Store also offers a free eCommerce site option—but you can’t remove the Square branding and has limited features.

          Setting up your own store might take some extra time to launch, but you will have complete ownership over the website while providing secure access to payment portals, gift cards, and more. Shopify also makes it easier to sell on social media, which allows you to add Instagram, Facebook, and Amazon as sales channels.


          Market with empathy

          While more people are spending, building trust is more important than ever. Consumers have plenty of questions—how is your shipping affected? How are you keeping conditions safe? Do you accept payment installments?

          Take ten to twenty minutes to layout a COVID-19 FAQ to help customers cope and build trust in your brand.

          Once that’s finished, you can focus on your products. If you already have a digital marketing plan— such as social media management or blogging, it may be time to expand it. When creating your marketing material, focus on trust-building and educating rather than promotional content.

          One way to do that is through listening and interacting with customers on social media. Platforms like Facebook have seen a 70% increase in usage in March alone. Rather than focus on ads, you can also use contests to drive engagement. For example, GoPro launched its #HomePro challenge with a chance to win a camera and a 5-year subscription to its Plus service. And there are plenty of free tools to help out, like WooBox for contests and TweetDeck to monitor discussions and hashtags on Twitter.

          As you chat online with your customers and research competitors, it will be easier to find ways to connect and soft sell.


          Keep moving forward

          After setting up your eCommerce website, you can continue to monitor your sales and its influence on your business. Since the economy is still in a state of flux, your business will constantly be changing. You may need to realign your marketing approach or add another eCommerce channel, such as selling both on your own website and Amazon.

          While there’s no guarantee eCommerce will be your main income stream during or after the pandemic, it may help keep your business afloat and provide an extra layer of stability.


          Next Steps

          Join us for a free live webinar this Wednesday, May 13, at 2 PM EDT, to learn how to overcome current eCommerce obstacles and strategize for success. Industry experts Alex Sklar (Head of Business Development and Strategic Partnerships, Payability) and Thomas Smale (Founder, FE International) will discuss important steps you can take right now to weather uncertainty, make confident choices, and map out plans to thrive.

          Discussion topics will include

          • Adapting marketing tactics
          • Gaining cash flow clarity
          • Leveraging your options
          • Securing funding

          And, yes, there will be a Q&A session, so bring your questions (or ask them as you register).

          Unable to attend the live event? No problem. Register and we’ll send you the replay.

          Register Today

          Seeing this after the webinar? Catch the replay and find other great eCommerce resources on SellerLeap.com.



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          5 Practical Cash Flow Survival Tips for Your Business During Coronavirus https://pulseapp.com/blog/5-practical-cash-flow-survival-tips-for-your-business-during-coronavirus Wed, 29 Apr 2020 09:00:00 -0500 simplefocus https://pulseapp.com/blog/5-practical-cash-flow-survival-tips-for-your-business-during-coronavirus

          Most small businesses have only two months or less of cash on hand for emergencies. With the unemployment rate soaring to 20% and continuing uncertainty, small and mid-sized businesses are trying to figure out how to survive.

          So what can you do? To answer this question, Pulse put together a free webinar to help small business owners make informed decisions and navigate challenges with confidence, especially when it comes to understanding and projecting cash flow.

          “When you have a clear picture of what cash you’ll have on hand if you delay a project or furlough an employee, you’re being strategic. It’s important right now to not just throw darts and hope you survive,” explains Pulse owner JD Graffam.

          Here, we’ve boiled the top tips into five practical steps you can take today.

          Tip #1 - Grab cash where you can

          To figure out how long your business can stay up and running, we first need to understand what we have to work with. That’s why it’s critical to hold down any and all cash before you take any other step. You need to keep what you have, collect what you can from customers, and consider any lines of credit available. It may sound self-centered to focus on locking down your money, but the longer you can stay afloat, the more likely your business is to survive.

          You can keep track of your cash using a money management tool or a simple spreadsheet. To get started, we recommend listing what you have for the next 12 months.

          Tip #2 - Cut expenses

          The next thing to do is list your expenses and cut out whatever you can. Don’t pay any creditors or bills that aren’t immediate. If you can, put them off, see if you can pay later, or ask for a discount. Inessential expenses will differ from business to business, but most likely you will find savings somewhere in your expense sheet.

          “It is such a simple thing, but anytime I’ve got a decision to make about spending money, I always default to not spending it,” says Graffam.

          After you look at general expenses, you will need to evaluate and possibly lower salaries—starting with yours.

          “It's really important for you ultimately to do everything you can to keep your people with you,” says Graffam. “Because without your employees, you don't have a business—and always start with your own salary first.”

          Once you lower your salary, you can then proceed to cut salaries for your employees. While it isn’t an ideal scenario, a lower salary is better than no salary. If you have to let someone go, make sure to pay them what you owe. And if possible, consider offering a furlough instead of laying them off completely.

          Tip #3 - Take advantage of government programs, credit, and deferments

          Notice a trend here? This tip supports Tip 1—get your hands on cash and keep it for as long as possible. Now that you know what you have and have gained more time by eliminating inessential expenses, you can look at strategic loans and deferments.

          For example, you may qualify and take out an SBA Paycheck Protection Program Loan, which can be forgiven if it’s spent on payroll. If you already had an SBA Serviced Disaster Loan, you can defer payments up until the end of 2020.

          Apart from applying for grants or lines of credit, you can also look at deferring tax, loans, and bill payments.

          “Make sure to ask about interest and penalties if possible. You may find savings where you don’t expect them,” says Graffam.

          Tip #4 - Start projecting your cash flow

          Once you know how much you have and how much to cut, you can begin looking at the long-term though cash flow projection. In other words, model the best and worst-case scenarios.

          For example: In step one, you discovered you had enough cash to run your business for two months. After cutting expenses and lowering salaries you’ve managed to save enough capital to keep the business going for another two months—four total. Now, how can you extend that to six months? Eight?

          With cash flow projection, this means taking a hard look at your client base and understanding how you can strategically move things around. For example, you may need to renegotiate planned work, delay projects, or offer discounts. You can estimate how long you can keep an employee—and if you will be able to give them a furlough or execute a direct layoff.

          Apply your different cash flows—your credit, grants, and deferments—to your model to get an accurate idea of how long you have.

          Projecting your cash flow will give you the confidence to know what needs to be done to get through this difficult period.

          Tip #5 - Stay positive

          At the end of the day, it’s critical to keep a positive mindset. Put yourself first, love your family, friends, and your pets. A pandemic is a trying time, but you have the potential to make it work for you.

          As the lockdown continues, more and more uplifting stories are popping up to combat the negativity. For example, some restaurant owners who have switched to takeout-only serving hospitals and are making more than before. Others are finding new and innovative ways to market their business or mix up their services. And movements to support small business owners, like #PayToday, are bringing attention to the plight of small businesses.

          Instead of dwelling on what you can’t control, it’s better to focus on what you can do at this moment —and appreciate everything you do have.

          Be strategic now to thrive later

          When it comes to crisis planning—whether it’s a global pandemic or a throwback to the 2008 recession, cash flow clarity is key to survival. Keeping as much cash as possible, cutting expenses, deferring payments, and strategically taking on credit can help your business stay afloat. Add cash flow projection, or modeling different scenarios, and you’ll have the confidence only real data can provide. No matter how the COVID-19 crisis challenges your business, a firm grasp on your cash flow will equip you to chart out a strategy that makes sense for your business.

          Next steps

          Projecting your cash flow can get complicated—hello, spreadsheets headaches!—but Pulse makes it easy. If you need clarity on your business’s financial forecast, start a free trial (we’ve temporarily extended it 3 months to support businesses during the Coronavirus).

          90-Day Free Trial

          No credit card required

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          WEBINAR: Practical Cash Flow Survival Tips for the Coronavirus https://pulseapp.com/cashflow-survival-webinar Thu, 02 Apr 2020 13:44:00 -0500 https://pulseapp.com/cashflow-survival-webinar Learn what you can do right now to ensure your company’s financial stability and growth. In this webinar, JD Graffam—owner of Pulse, Simple Focus, and more—presents a step-by-step plan to help businesses overcome the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. He discusses

          • Understanding your cash flow
          • Projecting financial scenarios
          • Strategically cutting expenses
          • ...and more!

          More resources for business owners:

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          Customer Stories https://pulseapp.com/customer-stories Tue, 03 Sep 2019 14:07:00 -0500 https://pulseapp.com/customer-stories Blog https://pulseapp.com/blog Wed, 24 Apr 2019 15:37:00 -0500 https://pulseapp.com/blog Log In https://pulseapp.com/login Wed, 17 Apr 2019 17:01:00 -0500 https://pulseapp.com/login Where Do I Log In?

          Your Pulse account has its own unique web address that looks like this:

          http://yoursite.pulseapp.com yoursite with the unique name you created when you signed up. Then, go to that URL to log in to your account.

          Did you forget your Pulse site address?

          Contact us and we'll help you get back into your account.

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          Terms of Use https://pulseapp.com/terms Wed, 17 Apr 2019 16:55:00 -0500 https://pulseapp.com/terms Last updated: May 16th, 2018

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          Customer Data

          “Customer Data” means any personal data that you input into Pulse.

          You are solely responsible for the accuracy, quality, integrity, legality, reliability, classification, and intellectual property right to use Customer Data and shall obtain and maintain all consents necessary for using and processing the Data in accordance with these Terms. You hereby represent and warrant that (a) any personally identifiable information about your Account users that you provide to Pulse was, is, and will be collected with the informed consent of such end users, (b) you have obtained all necessary rights, releases, and permissions to provide such Customer Data to Pulse, and (c) the collection, use, and disclosure of such information by you does not violate any laws or rights of any third party, including without limitation any Intellectual Property Rights, rights of privacy, or rights of publicity, and is not inconsistent with the terms of any applicable privacy policies. Pulse takes no responsibility and assumes no liability for any Customer Data that you or any third party provides, posts, publishes or transmits using the Services. You shall be solely responsible for Customer Data and the consequences of using, disclosing, or transmitting it, and you agree that Pulse is acting strictly as a data processor.

          Accounts and Passwords

          When you create an account with us, you guarantee that you are above the age of 18, and that the information you provide us is accurate, complete, and current at all times. Inaccurate, incomplete, or obsolete information may result in the immediate termination of your account on the Service.

          You are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of your account and password, including but not limited to the restriction of access to your computer and/or account. You agree to accept responsibility for any and all activities or actions that occur under your account and/or password, whether your password is with our Service or a third-party service. You must notify us immediately upon becoming aware of any breach of security or unauthorized use of your account.

          We reserve the right to refuse service, terminate accounts, remove or edit content, or cancel orders in our sole discretion.

          Intellectual Property

          The Service and its original content, features and functionality are and will remain the exclusive property of Pulse, LLC and its licensors. The Service is protected by copyright, trademark, and other laws of both the United States and foreign countries. Our trademarks and trade dress may not be used in connection with any product or service without the prior written consent of Pulse, LLC.

          Termination

          We may terminate or suspend your account and bar access to the Service immediately, without prior notice or liability, under our sole discretion, for any reason whatsoever and without limitation, including but not limited to a breach of the Terms.

          If you wish to terminate your account, you have the ability to cancel your account immediately in the Billing section of your Pulse Account when you are logged in. You are solely responsible for properly cancelling your account. An email or phone request to cancel your account is not considered cancellation. You can cancel your account at any time using the Billing section of your Pulse Account when you are logged in.

          If you wish to have your account permanently deleted, you can accomplish this task yourself or you may contact us using the information below and we will remove your account permanently for you within a reasonable amount of time.

          All provisions of the Terms which by their nature should survive termination shall survive termination, including, without limitation, ownership provisions, warranty disclaimers, indemnity and limitations of liability.

          Indemnification

          You agree to defend, indemnify and hold harmless Pulse, LLC and its licensee and licensors, and their employees, contractors, agents, officers and directors, from and against any and all claims, damages, obligations, losses, liabilities, costs or debt, and expenses (including but not limited to attorney's fees), resulting from or arising out of a) your use and access of the Service, by you or any person using your account and password; b) a breach of these Terms, or c) Customer Data posted on the Service.

          Limitation Of Liability

          In no event shall Pulse, LLC, nor its directors, employees, partners, agents, suppliers, or affiliates, be liable for any indirect, incidental, special, consequential or punitive damages, including without limitation, loss of profits, data, use, goodwill, or other intangible losses, resulting from (i) your access to or use of or inability to access or use the Service; (ii) any conduct or content of any third party on the Service; (iii) any content obtained from the Service; and (iv) unauthorized access, use or alteration of your transmissions or content, whether based on warranty, contract, tort (including negligence) or any other legal theory, whether or not we have been informed of the possibility of such damage, and even if a remedy set forth herein is found to have failed of its essential purpose.

          Disclaimer

          Your use of the Service is at your sole risk. The Service is provided on an "AS IS" and "AS AVAILABLE" basis. The Service is provided without warranties of any kind, whether express or implied, including, but not limited to, implied warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, non-infringement or course of performance.

          Pulse, LLC its subsidiaries, affiliates, and its licensors do not warrant that a) the Service will function uninterrupted, secure or available at any particular time or location; b) any errors or defects will be corrected; c) the Service is free of viruses or other harmful components; or d) the results of using the Service will meet your requirements.

          Exclusions

          Some jurisdictions do not allow the exclusion of certain warranties or the exclusion or limitation of liability for consequential or incidental damages, so the limitations above may not apply to you.

          Governing Law

          These Terms shall be governed and construed in accordance with the laws of Tennessee, United States, without regard to its conflict of law provisions.

          Our failure to enforce any right or provision of these Terms will not be considered a waiver of those rights. If any provision of these Terms is held to be invalid or unenforceable by a court, the remaining provisions of these Terms will remain in effect. These Terms constitute the entire agreement between us regarding our Service, and supersede and replace any prior agreements we might have had between us regarding the Service.

          Special Admonitions for International Use

          By continuing to access or use our Service, you agree to comply with all applicable laws regarding transmission of data exported from the United States or the country in which you reside. If your use of the Services requires you to comply with specific regulations, you are solely responsible for such compliance, unless we agree otherwise. You may not use the Services in a way that would subject us to those specific regulations without our prior written agreement.

          Changes

          We reserve the right, at our sole discretion, to modify or replace these Terms at any time. If a revision is material we will provide at least 30 days notice prior to any new terms taking effect. What constitutes a material change will be determined at our sole discretion.

          By continuing to access or use our Service after any revisions become effective, you agree to be bound by the revised terms. If you do not agree to the new terms, you are no longer authorized to use the Service.

          Contact Us

          If you have any questions or concerns about these Terms of Use, please contact us at info@pulseapp.com or 2527 Broad Avenue, Memphis, TN 38112, US.

          ]]>
          Privacy Policy https://pulseapp.com/privacy Wed, 17 Apr 2019 16:54:00 -0500 https://pulseapp.com/privacy Last updated: May 16th, 2018

          This privacy policy applies to Pulse, LLC ("us", "we", or "our"), which operates the Pulseapp.com website (the "Service").

          This page informs you of our policies regarding the collection, use and disclosure of Personal Information when you use our Service.

          We will not use or share your information with anyone except as described in this Privacy Policy.

          We use your Personal Information for providing and improving the Service. By using the Service, you agree to the collection and use of information in accordance with this policy. Unless otherwise defined in this Privacy Policy, terms used in this Privacy Policy have the same meanings as in our Terms of Use.

          Information Collection And Use

          We collect the following information from our customers:

          • We collect the email addresses of those who sign up for Pulse accounts or communicate with us via email.
          • We collect data on the pages and features our customers visit or use inside the app.
          • We collect information volunteered by our customers (for example, in surveys, during registration or via email).

          Here’s what we do with the information we collect:

          • We’ll use your information for billing, identification and authentication, customer research and contact.
          • We use that information to improve Pulse and the quality of our service.

          And here’s what we won’t do:

          • We don’t share it or sell it to other organizations for commercial purposes, except to provide products or services that you’ve requested.
          • Share your data without your permission.
          • Ask for personal information directly from children under the age of 18.

          Access

          If at any time you wish to know whether we have any of your personal information, you may submit a request to our Service and we will respond to your request within a reasonable timeframe. You can also access, correct, or request deletion of your personal information by logging into your Account or contacting us using the contact information below.

          Service Providers

          We may employ third party companies or service providers and individuals to facilitate our Service, to provide the Service on our behalf, to perform Service-related services and/or to assist us in analyzing how our Service is used.

          These third parties have access to your Personal Information only to perform specific tasks on our behalf and are obligated not to disclose or use your information for any other purpose.

          The specific tasks that we use service providers to facilitate may include:

          • Payment processing
          • Providing customer service
          • Sending marketing communications
          • Conducting research and analysis

          Compliance With Laws

          There are two situations in which we will share your information:

          1. It is necessary to share information in order to investigate, prevent, or take action regarding illegal activities, suspected fraud, situations involving potential threats to the physical safety of any person, violations of Terms of Service, or as otherwise required by law.
          2. We transfer information about you if Pulse is acquired by or merged with another company. In that case, we will provide notice before your Personal Information is transferred and/or becomes subject to a different Privacy Policy.

          Cookie Policy

          Cookies are required to use Pulse. Cookies are files with a small amount of data, which may include an anonymous unique identifier. Cookies are sent to your browser from a web site and transferred to your device. We use cookies to to record current session information, but do not use permanent cookies. You’re required to log into your Pulse account again after a certain period of time has elapsed to protect you against others accessing your information.

          You can instruct your browser to refuse all cookies or to indicate when a cookie is being sent. The Help feature on most browsers provide information on how to accept cookies, disable cookies or to notify you when receiving a new cookie.

          If you do not accept cookies, you will not be able to use some features of our Service and we recommend that you leave them turned on.

          Security

          Pulse has industry standard security measures in place to protect against the loss, misuse or alteration of your data. While there’s no such thing as perfect security on the internet, we will take all reasonable steps to insure the safety of your information. Although Pulse owns the data storage, databases and rights to the Pulse application, you retain all rights to your data.

          We will never sell your data, or use your data for our own business advantage. We respect your privacy, and the privacy of your data.

          International Transfer

          Your information, including Personal Information, may be transferred to — and maintained on — computers located outside of your state, province, country or other governmental jurisdiction where the data protection laws may differ than those from your jurisdiction.

          If you are located outside United States and choose to provide information to us, please note that we transfer the information, including Personal Information, to United States and process it there.

          Your consent to this Privacy Policy followed by your submission of such information represents your agreement to that transfer.

          Communications

          We may use your Personal Information to contact you with newsletters, marketing or promotional materials and other information that may be of interest to you. You may opt out of receiving any, or all, of these communications from us by following the unsubscribe link or instructions provided in any email we send.

          Changes To This Privacy Policy

          We may periodically update this policy. We will notify you about any significant changes in the way we handle your personal information by sending a notice to the email address specified in your Pulse Account, or by placing a prominent notice on our site.

          Contact Us

          If you have any questions or concerns about this Privacy Policy, please contact us at info@pulseapp.com or 2527 Broad Avenue, Memphis, TN 38112, US.

          ]]>
          EU Privacy and Data Protection https://pulseapp.com/eu-privacy Wed, 17 Apr 2019 16:53:00 -0500 https://pulseapp.com/eu-privacy Summary

          Privacy and security is a priority for us. Our Privacy Policy(link) and Terms of Use(link) documents cover most of what you need to know about how we use personal information that is provided to us, but we wanted to be extra clear about our practices as they relate to recent EU privacy legislation.

          Unless otherwise defined in this document, terms used in this document have the same meanings as in our Privacy Policy(link) and Terms of Use(link).

          GDPR

          If you use the Internet, GDPR affects you. Pulse has made significant changes to become GDPR compliant.

          What is GDPR?

          To quote the official GDPR website:

          “The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) replaces the Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC and was designed to harmonize data privacy laws across Europe, to protect and empower all EU citizens data privacy and to reshape the way organizations across the region approach data privacy.”

          Put more simply, GDPR outlines some rules around how companies process the data of individuals, and has scary fines for non-compliance.

          In light of this new regulation, here are the details about how we handle your data and how you can access it.

          Security and Data Center Location

          Pulse’s servers are located in the US and are managed by Heroku. Our databases are backed up daily, and those daily backups are stored for one week. The databases are also backed up weekly, and those weekly backups are kept for 30 days. All backups are stored by Heroku. You can learn more about Heroku’s data architecture here.

          Data Retention

          We collect and retain the following information from our customers:

          • Full name
          • Email
          • Company name
          • Username
          • Billing postal code

          We collect this information for the purpose of providing the Pulse service, identifying and communicating with our customers, responding to our customer requests/enquiries, getting paid for use of our products and services, and improving our products and services.

          List of Sub-processors

          As noted in our Privacy Policy, we may employ third party companies or service providers and individuals to facilitate our Service, to provide the Service on our behalf, to perform Service-related services and/or to assist us in analyzing how our Service is used.

          These third parties have access to your Personal Information only to perform specific tasks on our behalf and are obligated not to disclose or use your information for any other purpose.

          GDPR defines third party companies and service providers like these as “sub-processors”.

          Where applicable, we’ve linked to each sub-processor’s policies; we recommend reading each one to make sure you’re OK with us sharing some of your data with them.

          • We use Stripe to process our customers’ payments for our Service.
          • We use Postmark to send transactional emails (like receipts and notifications).
          • We use Google Analytics to track visits to our website, but only if the visitor has consented to being tracked.
          • We use Intercom to provide customer support and to communicate with customers that are logged into the Service.

          If you have specific questions about what data we send to any of those services, contact us using the information below and we’ll be happy to explain in more detail.

          Access to Your Information (DSR Requests)

          Another term that GDPR defines is “Data subject”. Put simply, a data subject is the individual whom particular personal data is about. A DSR (Data Subject Rights) request is when an individual asks a data controller to take action on their personal data. An example of a DSR request would be if a Pulse customer asks for an export of all the data they have entered into Pulse, or to permanently delete all the information they’ve entered into Pulse.

          We plan on processing these requests manually, though we’ve built some tools to allow our customers to access, correct, amend, or delete most of their data themselves.

          We will give a Pulse customer access to any personal information we have about them within 30 days of any request for that information, and we won’t charge anything to process these requests. Individuals may request to access, correct, amend or delete information we hold about them by contacting us using the information below. Unless prohibited by law, we will remove any Personal Information about an individual from our servers at their request.

          Contact Information

          If you have any questions or concerns about this document, please contact us by email at info@pulseapp.com or by mail at 2125 Broad Avenue, Memphis, TN 38117, US.

          ]]>
          About https://pulseapp.com/about Thu, 11 Apr 2019 15:41:00 -0500 https://pulseapp.com/about We created Pulse because we needed a way to understand our cash flow and make smarter financial decisions for our small business.

          In any business, it’s important to understand what your current and future financial situation looks like. It helps you plan, make decisions and change course if necessary. But, it’s tough to do that with accounting software alone.

          While our accounting software allowed us to enter our income, expenses and invoices and view reports, it didn’t handle forecasts very well. It definitely didn’t let us add possible income and expense items to see how they would affect our bottom line into the future.

          We built Pulse as a way to help small businesses (like ours) manage their cash flow more easily.

          Pulse gives you the ability to understand your financial position at any time, past, present or future. While cash flow spreadsheets and accounting software focus on the totals, Pulse gives you the ability to make the tough daily decisions you face when running a small business.

          ]]>
          Home https://pulseapp.com/ Tue, 09 Apr 2019 11:29:00 -0500 https://pulseapp.com/ Features https://pulseapp.com/features Tue, 09 Apr 2019 11:28:00 -0500 https://pulseapp.com/features Pricing https://pulseapp.com/pricing Tue, 09 Apr 2019 11:28:00 -0500 https://pulseapp.com/pricing 10 Ways to Sabotage Your Business https://pulseapp.com/blog/10-ways-to-sabotage-your-business Fri, 12 Jan 2018 00:00:00 -0600 simplefocus https://pulseapp.com/blog/10-ways-to-sabotage-your-business Here are 10 of the biggest mistakes you could be making in planning, team management, and money, money, money. To work on these critical areas, we’ve also gathered the top advice from New Year’s resolutions of the past.

          10. Not revisiting your mission statement and company goals

          From Megan Sullivan’s post on QuickBooks’ blog:

          “If you’ve been in business for a few years, chances are things have changed pretty dramatically from when you began. Due to the economy, competition or even just your own interests, it’s possible that what you set out to do isn’t quite what you ended up with, and that’s okay. Take a moment to review your mission statement and overall goals.

          Pull out that business plan you first put together when you were looking for financing, and see how your long-term goals stack up against your real-world experience.”

          9. Not involving others when you set goals or plan for the future of your company

          From Kevin Eikenberry’s post on Monster’s blog:

          “Yes, it is your business. Yes, it is your financial stake and you are the one taking the risk. And yet your team members are invested in the business too. They spend their time, effort, and energy. Wouldn’t you like them to be more personally invested in the success of the business? Let’s put it this way: would you like your employees to think more like owners?

          If so, you have to involve them in the goals and planning for the business — i.e, you have to drive employee engagement. You may set the overall direction, but let them be involved in the creation of the outcomes. Slowing down enough to involve them in this important work is a big key to greater involvement, commitment and success.”

          8. Ignoring opportunities to cut costs and increase profits

          From Carbonite’s Norman Guadagno’s post for Small Business Trends:

          “Resolve to spend more time digging into the minutia of your business’s finances because you may be surprised at how many opportunities you find to slash costs, increase efficiency and grow profit margins.

          “That means tracking invoices more closely, paying bills on time, asking utility providers for ways to save money, and scoping the market for competitive suppliers. Choose one area to focus on each month and you’ll be very happy with the results.”

          7. Ignoring the way you bring in profit

          From Rhonda Abram’s article on USA Today:

          “All money is the same, right? Wrong. Businesses have two kinds of money, cash flow — which keeps the doors open short-term — and profits — which provides long-term security. Understand, and concentrate on, the parts of your business that bring you profits.”

          6. Decreasing your team’s productivity by using your same old performance reviews

          From Kate Edwards’ post for CNBC:

          Ditch your old performance reviews. Traditional performance reviews can actually de-motivate your employees, as people consider a “review” or “feedback” a negative experience. Set your employees up for a more positive approach by reinventing the review process so that it focuses on employee strengths. Call it a “Goals and Performance Timeline.” Focus on your employee’s strengths, and create initiatives together around setting goals for the coming year.
          A Gallup poll shows that employees who are able to focus on their strengths in their positions are six times more engaged in their work and are eight percent more productive than plain old worker bees. Engagement equals performance, and your business – and employees – will be better for it.”

          5. Hiring new employees the wrong way

          As Mariama Bramble posts for the U.S. Small Business Administration:

          “If the New Year means new hires for your business, learn more about the process from start to finish. Beginning with the job description all the way to making sure the lines of communication are open with clients and existing employees.
          The key to this resolution is transparency. Keeping the lines of communication open between all parties benefits everyone in the end.”

          4. Never asking for advice

          Speaking of the Small Business Administration, agency spokesperson Miguel Ayala says on Fortune,

          “One of the chief responsibilities of the SBA is, of course, to dole out advice to entrepreneurs in need of some help. Struggling? The SBA can be a resource. Its learning center hosts a library of videos about managing small businesses, online training courses and web chats with small business experts throughout the year.

          Whether you started with an SBA loan or not, have an existing business or not, our counseling services are available to all entrepreneurs to evaluate how your business is progressing, and look for opportunities to expand.”

          3. Not paying attention to your financials

          As accounting software Xero says:

          “It may not be the fiscal year-end for your business yet. But it doesn’t hurt to go through all those sales receipts and invoices now, and check your bank account to make sure the figures add up.”

          2. Only focusing on one-off customers

          Rhonda Abrams is an entrepreneurial expert. On her list of top resolutions for small businesses, she says:

          “You may be thrilled to find any source of income, but some types of customers contribute more significantly to your long-term financial well-being. Focus foremost on customers who have the need and capacity to buy from you repeatedly rather than one-off purchasers.”

          You don’t have to take our word for it, but “cash flow management” found a spot into just about everybody’s lists for the next year. The number one way to sabotage your business is…

          1. Ignoring your cash flow

          We’ve written solid-gold cash flow advice in the past (like here, here and here) because we want your business to be unstoppable.

          Focus on bringing in more revenue, commit to your budget and keep a closer eye on your finances by projecting your cash flow in Pulse.

          ]]>
          Never Use QuickBooks and Spreadsheets for Cash Flow https://pulseapp.com/blog/never-use-quickbooks-and-spreadsheets-for-cash-flow Thu, 09 Nov 2017 00:00:00 -0600 simplefocus https://pulseapp.com/blog/never-use-quickbooks-and-spreadsheets-for-cash-flow Never take your eyes off the cash flow because it's the lifeblood of business.
          - Richard Branson, billionaire

          I made my own bread when I was unemployed. I was unemployed because the profitable business I owned ran out of cash.

          I’m a marketing specialist, not a bread specialist. Making bread was complex, time-consuming, and full of errors. I never did get my whole wheat loaves to rise. But it was satisfying: something to do and something to eat.

          Then I started a new business and got busy again. I let a specialist make my bread: Pepperidge Farm.

          And I damn sure wasn’t going to let my new business run out of cash. I exported my QuickBooks data into Excel. And then…and then...But I’m a marketing consultant, not a spreadsheet guru. Setting up a usable cash flow projection was complex, time-consuming, and full of errors. Like making my own bread, but without the satisfaction.

          The first problem was the time it took just to set up the spreadsheet for cash flows. And trying to adapt the one-size-fits-all spreadsheet templates, including Microsoft’s “My Cashflow” Excel template, was worse than starting from scratch.

          But the kill-me-now problem was bad numbers, #VALUE! and the resulting time spent digging through my spreadsheet to find errors: the accidental minus sign…not copying all the rows needed…typing a formula over a value…multiplying apples by oranges...the misguided AutoSum...duplication of incorrect data.

          Then there’s over-saving, so my “what if” experiments permanently screwed up my “as current” information. And by the way, my partner won’t read a spreadsheet on his tablet. He has to have charts!

          If you make your own bread, you’ll spend more time with flour on your hands than eating toast. If you make your own cash flow spreadsheet, you’ll spend more time troubleshooting than making business decisions. Because you’re not a baker or a spreadsheet guru, Excel or otherwise.

          Profitable businesses fail every day because they run out of cash. You have to forecast cash flow. But you don’t have to use spreadsheets.

          The app for bread is a grocery store. The app for cash flow is Pulse.

          ]]>
          The 6 Things That Can Kill Your Agency Dead https://pulseapp.com/blog/the-6-things-that-can-kill-your-agency-dead Fri, 21 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0500 simplefocus https://pulseapp.com/blog/the-6-things-that-can-kill-your-agency-dead Stop me if you’ve heard this before:

          “I got into the agency business because I’m passionate about the craft. I don’t really know much about the business side of things.”

          Or how about this one:

          “I landed the biggest customer ever, and now my business is going under.”

          Or this:

          “We have tons of work coming in. Everyone is crazy busy, but we’re losing money.”

          I have said each of these things out loud, and my business managed to survive. To survive in business, you need to use common sense and understand one thing: cash flow management. In an effort to refresh my own memory, and to help you out, I’d like to share six business killers that I have somehow managed to survive over the past seven years.

          I won’t point out specifics, but I have struggled with each of these business killers. I have seen each of them take down business owners close to me. It sucks, and it hurts. But all of the owners have recovered and are now back on their feet—wiser for the experience.

          Hopefully, this straight talk can save you some heartache and keep you from making the fatal mistake of not actively managing your cash flow.

          # 1 – Paying Yourself Too Much

          Before I hired the first employee at my UX agency, I was a freelance web designer. As a solo practitioner without any practical business experience, I thought “profit” was how much money I took out of the business bank account and put into my personal bank account. But that isn’t quite right.

          For a solo practitioner, profit is what your business makes after you pay your company’s bills and pay yourself a fair market rate for your line of work.

          To grow from a freelancer into a small agency, and then from a small agency into a mid-sized agency, your business needs to make more than you need to live on before you can safely hire additional people to help you out.

          Though that seems obvious, many of us take extra cash out of the business prematurely. Cash finally starts flowing nicely, so you decide to pay down some debt or treat yourself to a new car, nicer clothes, or a home renovation.

          Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with that! Just be very clear on how you define profit and make sure your business has some money that you don’t touch personally.

          Profit should go to keeping your business finances healthy, not just your personal finances.

          The Fix: On the 1st and 15th of each month, pay yourself as little as you can. What does someone with your experience and skills make working for someone else? That’s what you should pay yourself. Then, at the end of each quarter, after you pay your tax installment and keep profit in the business, consider drawing some extra cash out of the business and putting it in savings or buying something nice.

          #2 – Not Re-Investing Profits

          Question: Who wouldn't spend $10 to make $20?

          Answer: The person without $10.

          When you get the $10, double down on your business. Cash in the bank doesn’t grow as much as money that’s being put to work. When you have extra cash on hand, you can operate your business at a loss (for a bit) in order to invest in new opportunities and still maintain a healthy business.

          Planned growth is expensive. You must have cash on hand so that you can spend money now to make more money in the long run.

          The Fix: I’ve chosen to buy cash flow stable SaaS businesses with the profits from Simple Focus, which helps to regulate the ups and downs of agency project cycles. Find ways to reinvest your profits in growing your business, reducing risk, or improving your quality of life.

          Here are four examples:

          • Hire a sales director, executive assistant, or production staff.
          • Lease or purchase new equipment and add to your capabilities.
          • Buy out competitors or buy a book of business from someone making a career transition.
          • Add new products and services to your lineup.

          #3 – Unexpected Growth

          Growth is expensive, but unexpected growth can cripple your business before you know what hit you. Very healthy cash flow is the foundation that can get you through. It enables you to rapidly put a load-bearing structure in place.

          If a very large opportunity shows up at your doorstep, evaluate it with a critical eye. If you scale up your operation to support the opportunity and then that opportunity goes away in a year, would you have to let people go?

          The Fix: Consider a route less risky than immediate, full-time hires, such as independent contractors or partnerships with companies that can supplement your capabilities. You could also refer the work to someone else for a 15% referral fee.

          If you do take on the project, start looking now for new customers to help you diversify your risk. Your largest customer should account for no more than 30% of your business. Use the opportunity to grow your business to a new level, but think ahead about what happens to your cash flow in a year or more.

          #4 – Slow-to-Pay Customers

          Big companies have big budgets, notoriously long payment terms, and long, complex contracts.

          To avoid these problems, smaller agencies will often work as a subcontractor for a preferred vendor doing work for a large company. If that vendor’s contract with you has a we-pay-you-when-we-get-paid clause, watch out.

          If your customer—that is, the big company’s vendor—doesn’t have a healthy business, then they may choose to catch up on other bills before paying you.

          You wait even longer.

          Large companies pay slowly for logical reasons. They have a significant amount of cash on hand at any given time, but if it’s sitting in a bank account, it’s not growing. So instead of holding this cash, they invest it to grow it. The longer they hold the cash, the more they make.

          Inflation also comes into play: a dollar today is worth more than a dollar in 60 days. If they pay you $10,000 in 60 days, as opposed to today, they’re paying less for your service.

          Ouch.

          The Fix: First off, charge more when you work with really big companies to make up for the payment terms, complexity, and additional layers of management. And secondly, pay an attorney to walk you through your agreements. Don’t sign anything that doesn’t guarantee that you get paid for your work.

          #5 – Cash Flow Lulls

          You can make gobs of profit over the course of the year, only to be brought to your knees by a summer cash crunch.

          The thing about cash flow management for agencies is that there are really intense project cycles, and then there are slow periods. You need cash on hand for the slow periods because your payroll and rent don’t stop when business slows.

          The Fix: Work out payment plans and negotiate vendor agreements so that you reconcile your accounts payable and accounts receivable. During the wet season of big projects, you can lay up cash reserves. When you have three months of operating expenses in the bank, a summer dry season won’t starve you.

          #6 – Employees Quitting

          Sometimes, when an employee quits, you feel nothing but relief. Maybe he wasn’t a good fit, and he sensed the bad fit before you could act on it. Maybe you’re happy to keep the extra cash from his salary.

          But more often than not, an employee’s departure hurts both emotionally and financially because you invested a lot of time and money in that person’s growth.

          In addition, he was producing revenue (and profits!). Now that he’s gone, your production has slowed to a crawl. Everyone else is too busy to take on additional workload, and so overall cash flow has slowed.

          The Fix: Develop a deep bench of on-call talent. Always be interviewing. Always be hiring, even when you’re not.

          Bottom Line

          In 2013, I bought my first SaaS business (Pulse). If I’m being completely honest, I didn’t know how valuable Pulse is for small businesses, especially agencies. But today, after watching countless businesses fail because they didn’t take the time to manage their cash flow, I get it.

          Cash builds confidence. We forget the fundamentals until our businesses become top-heavy and fall over. Take some time this week to do an honest audit of your business.

          Are you still practicing the fundamentals?

          ]]>
          Milestone One https://pulseapp.com/blog/milestone-one Thu, 23 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0500 simplefocus https://pulseapp.com/blog/milestone-one Grammar Lesson: Startup Is A Verb

          Every city’s got a startup scene, especially the smaller ones, the underdogs. I love my city, and yeah, we’ve got one, too. Good ol’ Memphis, Tennessee. Swap out the details and this will sound a lot like your own city.

          In Memphis, we’re known for barbecue and Elvis, FedEx and trucking. Lots of other good stuff, too. And when you go downtown, we’ll see to it that you’re well-fed while we brag about our thriving high-tech startup scene. Memphis was mentioned in the 500 Startups twitter feed, which is a testament to what we can accomplish when we pool our resources and give tech-savvy entrepreneurs the resources and access they need.

          That’s right, if you work hard, you can get mentioned in a tweet, or an article, or on a podcast. You, too, can be a cog in a more successful organization’s content strategy.

          “We’ll see to it that you’re well-fed while we brag about our thriving high-tech startup scene.”

          So what is the missing piece? What is the thing I’m suggesting that will give you a better chance at succeeding with your business idea?

          I call it Milestone One: a clear focus on getting your startup cash flow positive first. Stop chasing the unicorn dream, the miracle exit, or the hope that you’ll monetize it later when you have users.

          But it’s more than cash flow positive. It’s really about being cash flow positive enough to afford to support yourself and your family, to put a roof over your head.

          And to be sure, we have lots of successful small businesses that thrive off of our established logistics economy and healthcare scene. But come on, let’s be honest. My city ain’t Silicon Valley. It won’t ever be, either.

          That doesn’t mean we don’t have successful “high tech” software and product companies, though. We do. We have quite a few of them, actually. Good ones. Established ones. Ones you’ve never read about in TechCrunch, but they’re doing good business anyway (despite their generally miserable, outdated design aesthetics).

          But lots of cities have successful software companies (with bad interfaces). And whether we’re talking about my city or yours, those successful software companies probably didn’t emerge from a downtown incubation factory on a $25,000 seed round and a year of mentoring from local executives and startup experts with an opportunity to pitch to real angel investors at the demo day.

          These companies are employing 20, 40, 100, 250 well-paid employees a pop and are providing critical services to the world’s leading companies. They’ve been around for twenty years or more. Some have been around since the ’60s. Yeah, software companies that have been around since the ’60s, going on fifty years of covering their nut and having plenty left over.

          Fail Easy, Fail More Often: the Gap Year for Entrepreneurs

          These cities all have some sort of egg hatching metaphor for these things. The idea is that the programs keep little eggs warm and nurture them while they’re fragile. It’s a nice thought, it really is, but people who start successful businesses aren’t delicate little eggs, they’re triple-tempered steel. I have a different phrase I use when talking about these hatcheries — I call them gap years for entrepreneurs.

          “People who start successful businesses aren’t delicate little eggs, they’re triple-tempered steel.”

          I asked my wife what she thought of gap years. She said, “I think they’re dumb.” Then, she paused and reflected. “But maybe,” she decided, “they’re okay and I’m just jealous that I didn’t have one.”

          That’s a fair point. And I’m not trying to be unfair, because there’s more to it than that. You may want to hear what I have to say if you’re interested in starting a business that has a higher likelihood of succeeding and lasting than a startup. A gap year is what people do when they want a break from the slog and want to get experiences.

          This isn’t easy to swallow for a lot of people who dedicate so much energy and money bringing these programs to life and helping founders with their businesses, but that doesn’t mean it’s inaccurate.

          “A gap year is what people do when they want a break from the slog and want to get experiences.”

          To be certain, I have strong relationships with the folks in my city, and cities all over, trying to make a real go of their startup scenes. It’s a good battle to be fighting, but in Memphis and in your city, it doesn’t do any good for us to fool ourselves into thinking startup hatcheries are the formula for building a better local economy.

          I think they’re great for helping entrepreneurs get practice at doing business things and driving investment in revitalizing downtowns, but I’m interested in helping people succeed at business things in every neighborhood. Yes, even the suburbs.

          We build better, bigger local economies when businesses succeed. Startups have a terrible success rate. It’s not because they’re working on bad ideas, it’s not because the founders and advisors aren’t smart, and it’s especially not because the talent isn’t there. The talent is there. The passion is there. The hard work is there. The ideas are solid. The business advice is real. The mentors are real.

          These programs aim to give entrepreneurial minded people a head start on building a business, because starting a business is hard.

          “We build better local economies when businesses succeed.”

          But it should be hard. It should be scary. You do have to sacrifice. Tough choices force you to act on difficult decisions, to put up or shut up. These programs drive entrepreneurs hard, very hard. I’ve got no problem with that.

          The problem is that these programs are trying to give entrepreneurs a break from the personal responsibility of their own livelihoods, so that when their startups fail it’s relatively painless to move on to the next thing.

          If we want to help startups succeed, this is illogical. Making it safe to fail, quite simply, makes it easier to fail.

          Move To Our City: the Play Pretend Startup Life

          Most of these startup programs have partners in place to incentivize founders to apply to their cohorts and move to their fair city. “We have it going on, you know. We were written up in Newsweek, you know. We’re a Top Eight Place to start up, you know. We have an insanely low cost of living, you know, it’s basically free here and we have an emerging creative class. Seriously. Please. Move here, we’ll make it easy. Promise.”

          “When their startups fail it’s relatively painless to move on to the next thing.”

          The fact is, every city is doing it, so your city needs to do it, too. Local angels want the warm and fuzzy feeling that comes with helping the city become attractive to millennials, and city leaders need to make investments in these things. Local papers eat this stuff up.

          Like I said: I love my town, and you love yours. But pretty much every city in the U.S. says these things, and we’re all competing for B-list startup founders, trying to get them to take our economic development incentives, move here, start families, grow companies, and hire tons of well-paid, skilled people maybe one day.

          But when these startups fail, I think it’s because we’re not holding them accountable for negative outcomes. We encourage startup founders to relocate by negotiating six-month lease terms in hip downtown condos, terms that align perfectly with the runway they are able to get from their seed round. They get free office space, with furniture. And access to a $15,000 coffee maker.

          That isn’t the real world. That’s the play pretend startup life. If it fails, they don’t have anything tying them down, and they’ll move on to the next opportunity.

          Take Failure Off The Table

          Our investors and startup programs need to help entrepreneurs succeed in business by taking failure off the table as an option.

          I can hear you now, parroting the Fail phrases. “But, but, Fail Fast, Fail Often or Fail Better or Fail Forward.” You’re missing the point. If you’re trying to make a real business, it can’t fail. If you are trying to build something that is going to make an impact on the world, that’s great, but you have to be able to support yourself with it first, which means it has to exist.

          Smaller underdog cities need to stop swinging for the fence and just try to get on base.

          The Thirty Year Business Plan

          I think it’s ridiculous to let startup founders who’ve never built a real digital product try and build one in six months using other people’s money while learning to code — that sounds like a scholarship to me, an opportunity to “find yourself and gain real world experience.” Except it’s not really the real world.

          And don’t get me started on pivoting. Decide what you want to make, something that has value. Make it. Then, sell it. Sell it over and over and over until you have enough money to do something better.

          I’m not trying to discourage you from learning to make a digital product, not in the least. And I’m not being elitist and saying yours isn’t as good as one someone with more experience can make. I mean, it probably isn’t, but you have to start somewhere.

          What I am saying is that it takes more than six months to figure it all out. So, start by figuring out less. Start by figuring out how to make a business that makes enough money to support numero uno. Then, build on that. Get better over six years, not six months.

          On top of that, community leaders and investors need to put the founders’ livelihoods first and foremost, by incentivizing them with deals structured around cash flow and net income before lifestyle and unlikely exits.

          Ten years ago, I was designing websites for whoever would pay me, for whatever they’d pay me, five hundred or a thousand dollars at a time. Today, I own several multi-million dollar businesses. But back then, this wasn’t my plan. My plan was to sell another $1,500 website to pay my mortgage for the month. And I did that over and over until I had enough money to quit my job and start Simple Focus. Then, I worked on Simple Focus until I had enough money to start buying SaaS apps.

          The startup game is a game that a lot of serial entrepreneurs play. I have multiple businesses, but I don’t call myself a serial entrepreneur. I think of myself as a business owner.

          “Today, I own several multi-million dollar businesses. But seven years ago, this wasn’t my plan. My plan was to sell another $1,500 website.”

          I think of myself in this way because I am focused on building generational businesses that I’m able to live off of for thirty years, not eighteen months. And that means starting with Milestone One.

          So, what is Milestone One?

          Milestone One is the first thing your business needs to accomplish, which is providing enough cash flow to put a roof over your head. Everything else is a distraction.

          When you look at small businesses that succeed, you see a common thread: the owners are committed to the long game. A thirty-year commitment ties your livelihood to your business’s success. People who succeed achieve Milestone One first, they create a company that pays for the roof over their head, provides for their livelihood, before anything else.

          Your “startup” will only be successful if it provides the money for that, in whole, every 15th of the month like clockwork.

          “When you look at small businesses that succeed, you see a common thread: the owners are committed to the long game.”

          Before you worry about anything else, work towards Milestone One tirelessly, and don’t let anything else distract you from it.

          When you start a real business, every single, solitary thing you do has to boil down to putting that roof over your head. You can’t provide salaries to employees unless you can provide for yourself or your family first. You can’t contribute anything valuable to your community unless your needs are taken care of. You don’t have the luxury of helping your city until you can help yourself.

          And it’s not about being selfish. It’s just a plain, simple fact.

          No matter where you’re at in life, when you decide to start a business, whether you’re a college dropout or a seasoned executive who’s been laid off after a thirty-year career, you have a certain lifestyle you have or want, and you have no business “doing a startup” that doesn’t provide that for you. It doesn’t matter how fancy or not fancy your particular roof needs to be, you need to start a business that can cover that first.

          ...

          This post was originally published on Medium .

          ...

          Original illustrations by Travis Knight from Simple Focus.

          ]]>
          8 Invoicing Tips to Maximize Cash Flow for Your Small Business https://pulseapp.com/blog/8-invoicing-tips-to-maximize-cash-flow-for-your-small-business Mon, 13 Feb 2017 00:00:00 -0600 simplefocus https://pulseapp.com/blog/8-invoicing-tips-to-maximize-cash-flow-for-your-small-business 1. Automate Invoicing

          Not only can you co​mpare your cash flow projections with your actual revenue, but you’ll save time spent creating billing documents and looking up customer information. The right software can automate your invoicing process and cut down on mistakes made by manually billing your clients.

          While there are plenty of options out there, we prefer Ballpark for time-tracking and invoicing. It’s easy to use, has powerful reporting tools and delivers great looking invoices and estimates. We also own Ballpark, so we'll admit we're partial.

          If you’re already using QuickBooks Online for your accounting, it can also send invoices. It also has the extra advantage that it can integrate with Pulse.

          2. Set Payment Terms In Advance

          If possible, send out a written estimate before any work is done, then follow up with an invoice afterward. You can solidify your client’s expectations and avoid confusion down the line.

          Creating this kind of consistency in your billing can also speed up payment, as the customer isn’t caught unaware by a cost they don’t recognize.

          Invoicing software often has powerful features for creating estimates. For example, in Ballpark you can create estimates for a customer and then turn the accepted estimate into an invoice with one click.

          4. Number Your Invoices

          If a client has a question about an invoice, it helps to be able to find it quickly. You should number your invoices to track payments for easy reference later. This should be no problem with your invoicing software.

          Some invoicing experts recommend that you avoid labeling your first invoice 001, as customers can perceive a higher number as a mark of established experience. So, start with a higher number.

          5. Set Short Payment Terms

          Be precise when you specify payment terms. Customers often view phrases like “payment due upon receipt,” to be a bit more vague than an actual date.

          Thirty days is a pretty standard arrangement, but feel free to tailor payment terms to best suit your business and the needs of your individual clients.

          6. Make it Easy for Customers to Pay You

          Consider letting your customers pay you online. It's easier on them, which means it's easier for you to get paid. Some platforms charge a percentage on transactions and others a flat monthly fee. This decision will be dependent on the nature and volume of your business.

          Some invoicing software, Ballpark included, will let you enable payment via PayPal, Stripe or credit card, and even automatically increase an invoice to cover the credit card processing fees.

          When mailing or faxing invoices, use clear language. Phrases like “net 30” may be common to most business owners, but don’t make the same assumptions about your clients.

          Also, make your invoices easy to scan so the clients are clear where to send payment and how much they owe.

          7. Stay in Communication with Your Clients (And Be Polite)

          Carry good customer service into your invoices, a little personalized note or even just “Thanks!” on an invoice can have a pretty great return on investment.

          It’s common to send a reminder the day a payment is due, and then once a week for every week thereafter. But you may also want to keep a client informed of progress during a project (depending on its length), and you definitely want to let your client know of any changes to a charge as quickly as possible.

          Use the same point of contact for all billing matters if you can; building rapport with an individual can grease the wheels if a misunderstanding does occur.

          8. Charge Interest on Late Payments

          There should be a clear plan for customers with late payments, and this information should be on the original quote. A specific amount is more common than a percentage.

          This fee doesn’t need to be large; you’re not trying to antagonize your clients. But it’s not out of line either. It simply shows that as a professional you expect clients to live up to a bargain the same as you do.

          Above all, be consistent. Consistent invoicing leads to consistent payment. And consistent bill payment is incredibly helpful to accurately projection your cash flow. And accurately projecting cash flow is what Pulse is here to help you accomplish.

          ...

          Original illustration by Travis Knight from Simple Focus

          ...

          You should follow us on Twitter.

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          Overcoming Seasonal Fluctuations in Your Small Business https://pulseapp.com/blog/overcoming-seasonal-fluctuations-in-your-small-business Tue, 24 Jan 2017 00:00:00 -0600 simplefocus https://pulseapp.com/blog/overcoming-seasonal-fluctuations-in-your-small-business Original illustrations by Travis Knight from Simple Focus.

          I have a friend who runs a small landscaping business. During the winter months, he turns his attention from mowing and pruning to clearing snow and assisting homeowners in winterizing their property. He also takes a vacation during one of the winter months, as opposed to the busy summertime when his services are in higher demand.

          Many businesses see more or less consistent cash flow throughout the year, but for others, seasonal peaks and valleys are a way of life. Whether your business has seasonal products, accounting, logistics or changes in the amount of work you receive from your clients, learning to predict and manage these fluctuations is crucial to business sustainability. Fortunately, you can take steps to minimize losses during these periods of inconsistent revenue.

          You can take steps to minimize losses during periods of inconsistent revenue.

          Cash Flow is Predictable

          The first and most important thing you can do to understand your slow periods is to accurately monitor and forecast cash flow. With a correct and consistent prediction of seasonal lulls, you can take action to reduce the impact of these valleys on your annual bottom line.

          Forecasting cash flow for a seasonal business is the same as for a year-round business, but actually more predictable. While all businesses must contend with the normal fluctuations of revenue and expenses, seasonal businesses will have an easier time estimating revenue in the off-season (particularly if the business is closed in the off-season). Expenses during this interval can become very predictable indeed, especially if they are cut down to the bare necessities.

          Forecasting cash flow for a seasonal business is the same as for a year-round business, but actually more predictable.

          Ways To Reduce Loss

          There are at least three ways to brace your business for seasonal lulls:

          1. Spend less money during these slow months by communicating with vendors (possibly reducing payment terms to keep cash in the business).
          2. Cut unneeded spendings such as subscriptions, equipment rentals, or services that can be temporarily suspended.
          3. Reduce labor force during slow periods. This may not be a viable option for all small businesses, however, particularly those with a small number of employees (perhaps even just one.)

          A better alternative is to diversify goods and services offered during the off-season. This way, you’re not just lowering expenses but you’re bringing cash back into the business. For example, a self-employed photographer who specializes in wedding photography would look for other avenues of income during the slower months, such as photography for holiday cards, “save-the-dates”, or creative projects they might not have time to explore during the busy wedding season.

          The Key Is Planning

          And the best way to plan is to carefully watch and forecast your cash flow and expected projects. This way, your small business can save some of the cash on hand from your profitable months to offset your expenses during slow months. This is where Pulse comes in handy. By comparing to previous periods of low demand, you can have a reasonable idea of how much revenue to expect from their customers. (Or, what revenue to not expect.)

          Your small business can save some of the cash on hand from your profitable months to offset your expenses during slow months.

          Pulse is an excellent tool to help give you the knowledge you need to keep your seasonal business moving forward, even when there’s less fuel to keep the engines running.

          You should follow us on Twitter.

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          New Year’s Resolution: Understand Your Cash Flow https://pulseapp.com/blog/new-years-resolution-understand-your-cash-flow Tue, 10 Jan 2017 00:00:00 -0600 simplefocus https://pulseapp.com/blog/new-years-resolution-understand-your-cash-flow For a small business owner, it’s an excellent opportunity to examine past successes and failures and to move forward with your business in the most predictable and profitable manner possible. Understanding how cash flow affects your business is a great step in maximizing your business’s potential.

          Cash flow is the total money moving in and out of your business. A business with a high volume of cash flow isn’t necessarily successful unless that cash flow is positive.

          Take for example a graphic designer who runs his own business. He receives revenue from multiple clients for contracted work, and his regular expenses include rent and utilities for a small office, advertising, a monthly fee for software and a few freelancers he occasionally hires. He keeps careful track of his income and expenses using a spreadsheet.

          If he were to lose one of his contracts, he doesn’t know what impact it would have on his bottom line going forward.

          If he were to use cash flow software like Pulse, he would be able to consult his projections for the upcoming months to see how this loss will impact his business’s cash flow in the immediate future. By learning from his past cash flow and projecting future cash flow, he will better be able to decide if he needs to make cutbacks in advertising or hiring freelancers in order to keep his net cash flow positive.

          Pulse is designed to make it easy for small business owners like you to keep your eyes on the horizon of your money management. Do you intend to give your employees a Christmas bonus? Pulse can help you know when it’s smart to save towards that goal. Expecting a lull in business during the winter months? Pulse can keep you on track to meet your financial goals through quarter one and beyond by giving you a better estimate of future revenue. Planning a resource intensive project? Pulse can help you estimate how this will affect your bottom line for each week of the coming year.

          In short, cash flow projection helps you make better business decisions.

          In short, cash flow projection helps you make better business decisions.

          As another example, what if your business hits a sudden wall? Maybe unfortunate circumstances force you to close up shop for a few days. With detailed cash flow projections, you will have a better idea of how long it will take to recover those losses and get you back on track. This will allow you to spend money more wisely in the meantime.

          Perhaps a sudden rush of business leaves you with more cash on hand than expected. With Pulse, you can consult your projections and decide if this extra revenue is better spent trying to maintain your good fortune, or is best saved for an upcoming expense.

          This year, resolve to make better business decisions. Stop spending money you don’t have on stuff you don’t need. Stop using that time-consuming spreadsheet that only shows you money from the past. You’re better than a spreadsheet.

          You should follow us on Twitter.

          ]]>
          5 Ways To Spend Less and Make More https://pulseapp.com/blog/5-ways-to-spend-less-and-make-more Mon, 10 Oct 2016 00:00:00 -0500 simplefocus https://pulseapp.com/blog/5-ways-to-spend-less-and-make-more Your grandparents were onto something – small cuts now can add up over time and turn into significant savings. Take Warren Buffett’s famous frugality. Though his net worth exceeds $65 billion, Buffett still lives in the home he purchased in 1958 for $31,500.

          As you dig into your own spending habits, you may discover needless expenses that can add up over time and impact your bottom line. Here are five common ways you could be wasting money without realizing it.

          1. Brick-and-Mortar Office

          You may have a killer office space, but have you seen clear evidence that those pretty hardwood floors lead to more signed contracts? Businesses like Happy Cog have transitioned to a distributed office, and they are still just as effective.

          In fact, the latest research shows that half of all employees will work from home by 2020. If giving up your office is an option, you can work with your team by using technology like Skype, Slack and Google Hangouts and rent a conference room when you need to meet face to face.

          2. Sneaky Charges

          Do a quick review of your monthly expenses (and make sure they're all accounted for in Pulse). Maybe that membership to PRWeb made sense in the early days, but there are plenty of other ways to get your name out there.

          Look at your regular expenditures and think about which ones haven't made a meaningful impact on your business in the past six months. Here are some of the usual suspects:

          • Software subscriptions
          • Professional groups
          • Web services
          • Domain registrations
          • Subscriptions that auto-renew
          • Magazine subscriptions
          • Extra phone lines

          When you sign up for a new membership or service, set a reminder in your calendar for six months later. If you haven’t seen the value that you anticipated, cancel your account before it auto-renews.

          3. Find Everyday Discounts – Without Cutting Coupons

          Look for proactive ways to save by considering switching to other companies that offer better deals on the products or services you’re using. Let’s say you spend $50 a month in bank fees. If you switch to a new bank that offers free checking, you could save $600 a year. Look for other ways to save by bundling services (like your internet and phone services) or getting discounts for setting your bills to auto-pay.

          4. Pass Along Costs

          Chick-fil-A’s average per-store grosses were $3.18 million in 2012. Sure, it was their pleasure to serve you, but those profits came from a significant markup on the cost of raw materials.

          Think about one of your standard projects and total up all of your recurring costs. If your expenses come out to $900 per job, tack $900 onto the project total. Revisit your profit margins, and you may discover that you can save money by passing the costs on to your clients or vendors.

          5. Difficult Clients

          There’s one more thing that isn't going to show up on your bank statements – difficult clients. Do you have a client that calls at night? One who always pays late? A know-it-all who talks down to you and bullies your team? Maybe it’s time to fire the bottom 20 percent of your clients (or at least the worst one). What you lose in cash you’ll make up for in morale and the newly acquired freedom to land better clients.

          When you find creative ways to cut unnecessary expenses, you’ll have more cash on hand to invest in your future.

          ]]>
          Startups Need Cash Flow Projections https://pulseapp.com/blog/startups-need-cash-flow-projections Fri, 23 Sep 2016 00:00:00 -0500 simplefocus https://pulseapp.com/blog/startups-need-cash-flow-projections (Read this article , and you can thank us later when you decide to sell for $20 million instead of $200 million.)

          In the meantime, as a founder, you’re responsible for paying bills, handling payroll and keeping the lights on—whether or not you consider yourself a “numbers person” that enjoys fiddling with spreadsheets.

          You probably aren’t, and you probably don’t. You probably excel at software architecture, product development or sales. But your investors will expect to see your cash flow projections from time to time.

          When it comes to outside funding, the devil in the details either builds your credibility or hurts it.

          So how can you stay on top of your cash flow projections?

          Here are six tips to help you take control of your cash flow:

          1. Download a free cash flow template. You can find a 12-month version here and 3-year version here. Better yet, use Pulse to give your projects that professional polish that spreadsheets lack. Pulse is also better for sharing visual cash flow and collaborating with mentors and investors. Spreadsheets are perfectly acceptable, of course, but Pulse offers another, more subtle benefit: building trust by showing that you’re savvy.
          2. Create your sales forecast. A good rule of thumb is to create three different projections: conservative, moderate, and aggressive.
          3. Estimate your expenses. If your business is already up and running, plug in your past numbers. If you haven’t opened the doors yet, you may have overlooked certain sneaky, variable expenses like office cleaning, travel, tax work and LLC fees. It’s those little things that can get you, so sit down with a veteran entrepreneur. Ask him or her to help you identify likely expenses that you missed and poke holes in your projections.
          4. Plug in as much past data as you can–past, present, and future. Fair warning: This may take you awhile. If you start to go cross-eyed or get frustrated, come back to the task tomorrow. Ask for help from your accountant. Ask for help from your mentors and advisors.
          5. Commit to a monthly review—at a minimum. Pick a day each month, sit down with your co-founders, and run your actual numbers. Schedule it like you would any other mission-critical meeting. If you’re not outsourcing your bookkeeping to someone else, then the buck stops with you. Throwing receipts in a shoebox won’t cut it. Update your actual numbers and compare them to your projections. Pulse makes this pretty easy; this blog post will walk you through the steps. Once you know where you stand, you can develop a plan of attack and delegate responsibilities.
          6. Don’t let profits lull you to sleep. Your P&L Statement may look squeaky clean. But don’t let being in the black deceive you. You can be on budget and profitable AND still be broke. Do you have cash reserves? Ninety days’ worth of operating expenses is worth considering while you’re figuring out your financial ratios. Are you planning for that unexpected expense? What about the talented Rails developer who moves on to a cushier gig? A contractor who fills in may cost you more per hour than your W-2 employee and skew your numbers.

          Stay committed to your monthly review. Surprises will come, but you can minimize their impact by staying on top of your cash flow and saving for a rainy day.

          Shows like Shark Tank and Silicon Valley may have glamorized (and poked fun at) the startup journey, but backstage, running a startup is a lot of work.

          Master your cash flow projections now, and we can promise that you’ll make wiser spending and saving decisions in the future.

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          The Cost vs. Cash Flow Conundrum https://pulseapp.com/blog/the-cost-vs-cash-flow-conundrum Mon, 12 Sep 2016 00:00:00 -0500 simplefocus https://pulseapp.com/blog/the-cost-vs-cash-flow-conundrum Meet Dallas.

          He owns a small consulting firm in Atlanta. Yobro offers professional editing services to bloggers and writers.

          Dallas runs his entire business on his MacBook. While cruising through a client project one morning at his favorite coffee shop, Dallas manages to spill water on his… business.

          Two hours after the spill, the Apple Store Genius informs Dallas that water did, in fact, get inside the shell. The hard drive is fine, but some of the components already show signs of corrosion.

          Bummer. Now Dallas is in a pickle.

          The Cost vs. Cash Flow Conundrum

          Dallas takes pride in helping his clients meet publishing deadlines. He gets consistent referrals, and his project pipeline is full. But unfortunately, he can’t serve his clients without a computer.

          Dallas gets two prices from the Apple Genius: the cost of repairing the old laptop and the cost of replacing it with a new machine.

          He then logs into Pulse to look at his cash flow projections. How does a new laptop purchase affect his cash flow?

          It’s just as he feared: a new laptop will totally wipe out his cash reserves, and even the repair cost will stretch him pretty thin.

          What to do?

          Insert: A Lifeline

          A month ago, a mentor recommended that Dallas should secure a line of credit and use it to bridge any gaps in cash flow. Dallas applied for the line and got approved the same week.

          Dallas does three things right then and there:

          1) He springs for the new MacBook, his old one was slow anyway

          2) He pays for it with his line of credit

          3) He divides the cost by three and adds those three installments to Pulse

          He’ll have the new laptop paid off within three months, and he won’t miss a single deadline. Sure, he’ll have to pay some interest on the line of credit, but he gets to keep his cash reserves intact.

          There’s no better feeling for a solo practitioner than having cash on hand.

          Planning for the Business’s Future

          But he’s learned his lesson: he needs to double his cash reserves within the next six months.

          To do that, he needs to grow his business by 25%.

          To do that, he needs to spend more time on marketing.

          To do that, he needs to find someone who can help with the actual editing work—someone who is at least as good if not better than himself.

          Dallas Doubles Down

          A few years later, Dallas has doubled his editing business. His associate editor played a major role in that growth, and now he is considering hiring Evie full-time.

          Dallas first needs to make sure he can afford legal fees for incorporating an LLC and takes a look at his cash flow projections. He emails his attorney to ask if he can pay the fees in three separate installments. His attorney agrees.

          Dallas also uses Pulse to look at his historical earnings. As he reviews those numbers, he begins to feel quite confident in hiring Evie. His first W-2 employee is affordable. And now that he’ll have full-time help with his company’s production schedule, hiring Evie will be profitable.

          Necessary Growth

          Six months later, Dallas expands his “editing” business to design services. Give the people what they want, right? Enough of his clients asked for designer recommendations or self-published their books with unattractive covers that he finally worked out a deal with his brilliant designer friend and added the new offerings to his website.

          The only problem is—if you can call this a problem—demand for design services, including ebooks, infographics, illustrations, and even original art for a children’s book—has grown significantly faster than the editing arm of the business.

          He’s done a few covers for an imprint at a big publisher, and there’s no sign of those leads slowing down.

          Covering His Bases

          Should Dallas join forces with his designer? Can he afford to hire him outright? The publisher has a net-60 payment schedule, so he won’t act until he’s got the cash on hand.

          Pulse has become the backbone of his business. Dallas doesn’t spend money he doesn’t have. But on occasion, he sees an opportunity and takes a calculated risk.

          That’s just good business.

          ]]>
          7 Questions for Better Cash Flow https://pulseapp.com/blog/7-questions-for-better-cash-flow Mon, 12 Sep 2016 00:00:00 -0500 simplefocus https://pulseapp.com/blog/7-questions-for-better-cash-flow We surveyed Pulse customers and learned that 80% of them manage their cash flow daily.

          It’s important to stay on top of your cashflow, yadda yadda…. But seriously, carve out half an hour this week. Get out of the office or wherever you typically work. Buy yourself a hand-crafted latte at one of those fancy third-wave indie coffee shops where everyone has a better haircut than you. Turn off your phone. Take out a pen, paper and your laptop.

          Quit every application, Mail and Slack included.

          Invest 100% of your creative and critical faculties in honestly answering these seven questions:

          1. Are you managing your cashflow?

          Even if your business turns a massive profit annually, you could find yourself cash-strapped in the summer because of a lull in receivables. When you’re managing your cashflow, you’re timing payments and tying your expenses to income to avoid a cash crunch. Pulse is great for visualizing these gaps so you can manage them.

          2. Are your cashflow projections accurate?

          Do a side-by-side comparison of your actual numbers and projections. Does your cash flow sync up with what you budgeted? If so, great! If not, you should dig in to figure out what happened so you can plan better.

          3. Are you making more than you’re spending?

          Hint: The answer you’re going for is “Yes.”

          4. How can you cut spending?

          Think big but think small too. Cut back on small things that don’t have hurt morale before you cut big things that people will really miss. High-quality coffee matters!

          5. How can you increase profit margins?

          You can start by raising your rates. If you’re in a service business, raising your rates by $10 an hour might have a big impact.

          6. Do you have a plan for reinvesting profits?

          Invest in things that increase efficiency and convenience, decrease risk, and create new opportunities (e.g., new capabilities, equipment, and people).

          7. Are you doing more of what is already working?

          Seriously, are you? Take a look at your last five customers or projects. You may be able to identify a repeatable system in the mix.

          Recommit to the basics, and you may discover that your pulse is stronger than you think.

          ]]>
          What is Cash Flow Projection? https://pulseapp.com/blog/what-is-cash-flow-projection Tue, 30 Aug 2016 00:00:00 -0500 simplefocus https://pulseapp.com/blog/what-is-cash-flow-projection You might have had a solid exercise regimen back in college. You might have saved money aggressively when you were still single. You might have tracked your earning and spending more carefully when you were a young freelancer lacking consistent cash flow.

          Time passes. Your business morphs. You form new habits—good and bad. It’s not that you don’t know what to do. Knowing isn't the same as doing. Knowledge can inform better habits, but the habits are what bring positive, lasting change. Revisiting the basics offers an opportunity to revisit the habits we have formed, intentionally and unintentionally.

          What is cash flow projection?

          Cash flow is the movement of money into, through, and out of your business.

          Basic economics are at play. Regardless of the incentives for running your business, you need cash to operate, because it takes money to make money. Without profit, you cannot grow. And you can’t have profit without healthy cash flow. The flow of cash is about the timing of your income and expenses. Everything needs to work in rhythm, otherwise, you run out of cash and you don’t have a business. If your costs exceed your profits, then you will be operating in the negative. But if you can make more than you spend, all sorts of growth opportunities open up.

          Cash flow is the movement of money into, through, and out of your business.

          Nine times out of ten, you can trace the failure of a business back to negative cash flow. And as often, you will notice that the owners of successful, profitable businesses proactively manage their cash flow.

          But they also watch their cash flow projections. They plan for growth because rapid growth can be just as much of a threat as losing a major contract or a thousand customers. Both drought and a flood expose weak infrastructure. Projecting cash flow is important because you need to anticipate when income and expenses will hit so you can plan for growth, manage lulls and decide when to take cash out of the business or reinvest profits.

          So what steps are the steps for accurate cash flow projection?

          You’re already aware of your company’s various expenses: compensation, office space, marketing and advertising, equipment, technology, and so forth. Pulse helps you to quickly and effectively place these numbers alongside all of your accounts receivable. The more accurate your predictions, the better your planning.

          What are your spending patterns? What are the trends in your earning? Has your business historically had a wet and dry season? If so, you’ll know to set aside an immediate surplus to cover a future shortfall. Soon enough, you may realize that you must ramp up your marketing and sales efforts and set bigger goals, or you won’t be able to grow your team, work fewer hours, and spend more time with your family.

          Cash flow isn't just about how much money comes in and how much goes out. It's about when it comes and goes. Pulse helps you see how each project’s variables affect profitability.

          Cash flow isn't just about how much money comes in and how much goes out. It's about when it comes and goes.

          You can(’t) afford it.

          Pulse gives you the information you need to make better business decisions. For example, maybe your devs make snarky comments about the swill you serve at the office. Is it time to bite the bullet and start buying better coffee? Yes. You can afford it, and this rather small expense would represent an inordinately large morale boost.

          Can you afford to give bonuses this December? Pulse tells you maybe. Work hard, then reevaluate in six weeks. In the meantime, you can start paying for gym memberships. The healthier your team, the healthier your bottom line.

          Get back to the basics.

          The healthier your team, the healthier your bottom line.

          To plot your path you need an up-to-date map. How’s your map these days? More importantly, how is your cash flow?

          ...

          As always, we'd love to hear from you.

          ...

          Follow us on Twitter.

          ]]>
          Using Pulse To Track Actuals Alongside Projections https://pulseapp.com/blog/using-pulse-to-track-actuals-alongside-projections Sun, 08 Mar 2015 00:00:00 -0600 simplefocus https://pulseapp.com/blog/using-pulse-to-track-actuals-alongside-projections First and foremost, Pulse is designed to manage cash flow, so our entire system is optimized around the idea that your past transactions are not as important as your projected income and expenses. However...

          Pulse also does a great job at tracking actuals against projections. And, with categories, you can generate reports that will help your accountant at the end of the year (as long as you've input your income and expenses accurately).

          Here's How To Do It

          First, you need to set up two Financial Accounts.

          Do this by going to Settings near the top right and then clicking on Accounts in the right sidebar. Or, just click Edit near the Accounts module on the right-hand side of the Cash Flow tab.

          You'll need two accounts: one for tracking your actuals and one for your projections. You can set up multiple accounts if you have different business units or profit centers for your business, just make sure you are on a plan that has enough accounts included. Name them whatever you want, but for our simple demonstration, create one called Actuals and one called Projections.

          Set Up Projections

          Whether you set up a budget annually or track projections throughout the year, this is your account for playing with your anticipated income and expenses. Put in possible projects, sales leads, anticipated hires, big annual expenses – whatever you are forecasting. If you want to use your projections as a budget for the entire fiscal year, then call this financial account Budget instead of Projections.

          Track Actuals

          Now, since your projections aren't necessarily realized income and expenses, you'll use your Actuals account to track your actual income and expenses. Luckily, you won't have to re-enter categories – they are all available for both financial accounts. While your projections will span into the future, your the entries in your Actuals account will be filled out as time passes, creating a history of past transactions.

          Comparing Actuals and Projections

          Now that you have everything set up, you can toggle the checkboxes by your financial accounts from your Cash Flow (monthly, weekly or list) and Reports screens to see your projections versus your actuals. Make sure to adjust the dates that you are running reports on so that you can compare apples to apples.

          But Don't Stop Managing Cash Flow

          Pulse is best used as a cash flow management tool, so always keep another financial account for continually managing your projected income and expenses, knowing that when it comes to cash flow, all that matter is how much money you have today and how much you have coming in and going out in the future.

          It's incredibly helpful to use Pulse as a simple accounting system, and comparing actuals to projections (or a budget) is a great way to measure your business' ability to hit its projections. But, Pulse was designed for managing situations when projections and actuals may not align. Keep this in mind and use Pulse to figure out how to manage your cash flow through the tough times as well as how best to reinvest (or if you can take money out of the business) during the good times.

          Happy cash flowing!

          ]]>
          Three Quick Tips for Growing Your Online Business https://pulseapp.com/blog/three-quick-tips-for-growing-your-online-business Wed, 04 Feb 2015 00:00:00 -0600 simplefocus https://pulseapp.com/blog/three-quick-tips-for-growing-your-online-business When we bought Pulse in October of 2013, it had been a flat business for three years. I knew the previous owners personally and knew they hadn't neglected Pulse, but they weren't actively building new features, either. For them, Pulse was a steady income stream, but they were busy with other things.

          What's incredible, and why we were so excited about Pulse, is that the business was still finding new users every month, enough to replace those who were closing their accounts. In SaaS parlance, when churn (the percentage of customers closing accounts) matches paid signups, the result is a flat business.

          In any business, the simplest way to grow is to give customers a good experience. One of the biggest components to user experience is speed. Below, I'll talk about three things we did in our first year, all focused on speed, to revitalize Pulse.

          We have miles to go, but the little improvements we've made so far have made a measurable impact.

          Faster, Consistent, Thoughtful Customer Service

          Whether we get a customer support ticket or a sales enquiry, we take the time to write back a thoughtful response—and we respond quickly. Phase 1 was to respond consistently within one business day, and we do that. Phase 2, which we're working on now, is to respond to every ticket within half a day. Phase 3, our ultimate goal, is to respond within an hour (preferable within minutes).

          In addition to the turnaround time for tickets, when we took over Pulse and reviewed the customer support history, we saw a lot of replies that didn't make the customers feel warm and fuzzy. For example, customers often write in with a feature request we don't plan on implementing. Previously, the request may have been ignored entirely, or a typical response would have been, "Thanks for the suggestion, but we do not plan on implementing Feature X." And with regards to bug reports, a previous response might have been, "Sorry for the trouble. Things are back to normal now. Email us again if you have any other problems."

          However, now our responses are more thorough:

          "Hi Sally, Our hosting company just had a half hour incident that brought us down (they had to replace some failed hardware), but it's over now. We are working with them to ensure it doesn't happen again. Try now, it should be back to normal. I'm really sorry for the headache. Is there anything else I can help you with?" When the situation warrants it, we also proactively offer up an account credit.

          The key here is that we're just being a little more specific (mentioning failed hardware) and thoughtful (sorry for the headache).

          Pagespeed and Stability

          One of our main areas of investment in our first year of business wasn't in redesigning Pulse, though Simple Focus is known for our visual design. While we do want to update the look of the app to feel more contemporary, and it's in the roadmap, it's not a higher priority than the app's stability.

          Our biggest user experience hurdle with Pulse when we took it over was that it had a lot of errors and would go down periodically. We dug in our heels, hired a performance expert to consult with us, and stopped the errors (while making the app load faster). If we look at when Pulse started growing fastest over the last year, it's when we implemented these fixes.

          Faster-Loading Marketing Site

          We redesigned our marketing site to be mobile-friendly and load faster. We know from the work we do consulting with our clients on lead-gen, conversions and eCommerce, that speed has a strong correlation to conversion rate. So, we made sure the marketing site was fast. Right now, the marketing site reaches document-complete around two seconds and is fully loaded around seven seconds (on IE10, Cable, according to WebPagetest). There's plenty of room for improvement, but it's way faster than it was.

          Onward

          Stay tuned as we begin to work on smaller, more incremental improvements to Pulse and begin to invest in marketing and sales, while continuing to stay focused on improving speed. And even though we've almost doubled revenue in the first year of owning Pulse, I've always believed that you should have a solid product before you mash the pedal for growth, and over the last year with Pulse, that's what we've focused on.

          With these speed problems at bay, we can start working on the fun stuff like more modern interactions and a cleaner design. But we'll always keep speed and performance at the top of the list.

          ]]>
          The Five Most Important Budget Line Items for Creative Agencies https://pulseapp.com/blog/the-five-most-important-budget-line-items-for-creative-agencies Mon, 13 Oct 2014 00:00:00 -0500 simplefocus https://pulseapp.com/blog/the-five-most-important-budget-line-items-for-creative-agencies A fellow digital agency owner recently shared some advice he got from his business mentor with me. The advice lays out what numbers really matter when tracking the value and health of your business.

          I recently attended Owner Camp 007, where fellow digital agency owners celebrated, commiserated and discussed what it takes to stay sane while running our businesses. Afterwards, all of the alumni have kept in touch over Basecamp to continue the conversation. These discussions are already the source some of the most helpful business advice I've ever received.

          Financial Ratios

          One piece of such advice came from a story that Adam Landrum, who runs Merge, a digital agency in Greenville, S.C., shared with me. With his permission, I'm sharing it here. The advice centered on the concept of the financial ratios for a business, or in other words, what percent of your budget should go to X, Y and Z.

          As the story goes, Adam was presenting a budget to his business mentor for critique, a budget with more than 20 line items. The mentor (who is highly skilled in evaluating the business side of creative agencies) put his hand on Adam's shoulder as if to say, "That's cute". He turned the paper over and wrote down the following list of line items that he felt were the most worth tracking:

          • Compensation
          • Net Profit
          • Advertising and Marketing
          • Rent
          • General and Administrative

          Then, he wrote what the percentage of each item should be in a healthy creative agency. He started with compensation and profit:

          • Compensation: 58%
          • Net Profit: 20%

          The thing to note here is that this totals to 78 percent, which means your business must operate off of the remaining 22 percent. The rest breaks down as follows:

          • Advertising and Marketing: 5%
          • Rent: 6%
          • General and Administrative: 11%

          While these numbers can be fluid and different for every agency, the most important number to watch is profit, which always has to stay at 20 percent or above. If you don't spend much on advertising and marketing, perhaps you can afford to spend more on compensation. In a city like Memphis, Tenn., where Simple Focus' office is located, the cost of living is very low, so our compensation and rent can come in low, which means we can spend more on administrative expenses or keep more in profits.

          These numbers will always wind up equalling 100 percent. As long as your profit remains above 20 percent, your business is in good shape.

          This Works for Any Industry

          Keep in mind, this advice applies in principle to any business or industry, but these ratios are custom-tailored for creative businesses.

          Putting it to work in Pulse

          You can use categories in Pulse to track these important line items in your forecasts to see how your numbers will change if you hire someone or give them a raise. As long as your cash flow remains strong and your percentages remain in line with this advice, it's a pretty solid bet that your business will be in good shape.

          ]]>
          Using Cash Flow Scenarios for Decisions in Pulse https://pulseapp.com/blog/using-cash-flow-scenarios-for-decisions-in-pulse Wed, 02 Jul 2014 00:00:00 -0500 simplefocus https://pulseapp.com/blog/using-cash-flow-scenarios-for-decisions-in-pulse You can’t run your business blind. Well, you could, but doing so has consequences. Many startups try to shoot from the hip when it comes to growing their business, but this approach is fraught with common mistakes and failures.

          If you're not careful, you might make the mistake of spending money on resources that can wait until you are in a better cash position. Or, your market’s seasonality can have an impact on your cash flow. Such actions can leave you without the cash you need for emergencies or dealing with business needs at the right time.

          The good news is, avoiding these mistakes is easy with a combination of goal setting and cash flow monitoring.

          For example, imagine planning for a large trade show with high expenditures. If you see that your cash position will be weak around the time of the show, you can plan ahead and make the decision to hold off on purchasing that new enterprise software system or hiring a new full-time employee.

          Instead, you can wait for the boost you'll get from your trade show lead conversions and reassess what the infusion of revenue will do for your future cash flow. This allows you to manage by the numbers and connect clearly with your cash position. Clear data is empowering and helps you plan your spending and timeline.

          You can use Pulse to play out scenarios to give you clarity and help you reach the goals you have set. Whether your business is starting up or going strong for years, this process is necessary to keep your profitability high and your cash flow positive.

          A great way to do this is to put all of the deals you're working as separate income items for different projects. You can adjust your income and game out different scenarios to see what you would need to do if a project falls through or unexpected income is generated. For example, if you have a $3,500 deal with a high probability of closing with ABC Company, enter a project in the income area of Pulse with a project with ABC Company.

          From there, toggle the inclusion of those income line items by checking or unchecking them. Doing this will allow you to see how important each item is to your cash flow situation at different points in time, which will give you further sensitivity to different possibilities. It gets you emotionally involved with the goal, and that is worth gold.

          ]]>
          Cash Flow: The Lifeblood of Your Business https://pulseapp.com/blog/cashflow-the-lifeblood-of-your-business Tue, 29 Apr 2014 00:00:00 -0500 simplefocus https://pulseapp.com/blog/cashflow-the-lifeblood-of-your-business Cash flow is like the heartbeat of your business, it pumps in and out and has to be monitored. When it's not working properly, it can threaten the viability of a venture or startup.

          Your business is a system, like a living body, with a flow and a timing that have to work day in and day out. Having cash on hand for mundane and critical expenses keeps things moving forward, but it can also give the power to invest in business growth opportunities.

          As an entrepreneur and business owner, your job is to keep the flow going without disruption, which means knowing your current cash position.

          In Pulse, it's easy to keep an eye on your monthly, weekly or daily cash position, which can help you to see how much money you will have on hand at any time.

          As a manager of your business, it's critical that there not be a lapse in cash flow when you're trying to make payroll, buying necessary equipment for jobs and deciding on a strategic decision. All of these decisions require clear information.

          If you are keeping your cash flow information current, then you can play with the what-if situations, like:

          What if we...

          • want to hire a new employee?
          • upgrade our office space?
          • forego working with that difficult customer?
          • increase my owner's draw?
          • pay for a new vehicle?
          • buy new computers?

          When your decisions are based on probabilities and information, you are better equipped to mitigate risk and discover peace of mind.

          In the end, it's all about clarity. You are managing the life blood of the business, after all.

          ]]>
          Four Tips for ​Managing Your Startup's Burn Rate https://pulseapp.com/blog/four-tips-for-managing-your-startups-burn-rate Tue, 22 Apr 2014 00:00:00 -0500 simplefocus https://pulseapp.com/blog/four-tips-for-managing-your-startups-burn-rate The excitement of starting a new business and changing the world can be exhilarating. In the emotion of the startup phase, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that there are many unknowns.

          The prospective customers that committed to buying your first prototype may back out. The employees you count on most might be approached with a different offer. If you overspend on unnecessary overhead, then you increase your risks in the face of storms that will inevitably come your way.

          The first thing to do is ensure you are clear on your cash flow. We're a little biased, but we feel like Pulse provides that framework to see the past, present and future for your cash position. It helps you make decisions that are informed and factual.

          If you want to manage your burn rate, then here are four ways to integrate cash flow management into growing your business:

          1. Examine the Impacts

          When you decide to make a large purchase, input the expense into Pulse and see how this will impact your cash position. You can get an instant view of what will happen months down the road from your decision.

          When we want something - new computers, office furniture, company cars, etc. - our emotions can pull us in a hypnotic way. If you practice a bit of personal process and look at the numbers before you make the decision, you can move from emotion to logic. If the numbers work out and the risk is small, then at least you can quantify the impact.

          2. Delay A Month

          The likelihood is that you can get by without committing to a new subscription or a new purchase. In the cases where it is clear you cannot, then you have little choice.

          But delay a month and see if you can get by without the extra purchases. Every new tool or commitment you make will increase your monthly burn rate.

          If you are pre-revenue, especially, then delay on the niceties until you have revenue to account for your purchases.

          This little habit in your business approach will keep you from a lot of headaches and heartaches. You will find that the things you thought were so important could simply be luxuries. See if you can get by without new overhead or costs. Learn to take delight in delaying.

          3. Plan Around The Next Year

          You can also set up predictive models for income in the next year. This will help you understand your cash flow over months. When you have this picture, go back into your Pulse numbers and play with different scenarios. This will provide a sensitivity to what may happen in reality.

          After you get a good sense of probabilities, set up an expense category that allows you to have a spending account on overhead items you may want to accelerate your goals, increase morale or reward employees.

          This tells you how your expenses will fit into a bigger picture. Use this as a budget item and don't exceed it.

          Pulse effectively helped you forecast with a budgeted item around a burn rate you are comfortable with.

          4. Analyze Before Jumping

          Ultimately, your burn rate can be managed with an approach that centers around analysis before emotion. Take a look at what the numbers are telling you and understand your risks before committing to new expenses.

          This helps curb the appetite for new and shiny things that may not be necessary. Make it a management approach and you will mitigate the possibilities of running out of cash prematurely through the startup phase of your business.

          --

          This is a guest post from business consultant Don Dalrymple.

          ]]>
          Four Cash Flow Bedtime Stories to Help You Sleep Better at Night https://pulseapp.com/blog/four-cash-flow-bedtime-stories-to-help-you-sleep-better-at-night Thu, 17 Apr 2014 00:00:00 -0500 simplefocus https://pulseapp.com/blog/four-cash-flow-bedtime-stories-to-help-you-sleep-better-at-night Cash flow problems keep many business owners up at night. That's why we wrote these little bedtime stories to help you rest easy.

          The Princess Meets Her Prince, Sir Line-O-Credit

          After establishing a track record of success and profit, many businesses work with a bank to secure a line of credit. Businesses may want a line of credit in case they find themselves waiting on a big check, but they may also take advantage of it if there's an opportunity that's too good to pass up, such as acquiring a competitor or investing in a new technology that will grow their business.

          Here's the thing, though: banks want to give you money when you don't need it, so be sure to get your line of credit when things are going well. A month's worth of expenses is a good amount to shoot for.

          The Frog Gets Kissed By Online Payments

          Sometimes, your cash flow can be quickened by simply allowing your customers to pay you online. Many invoicing platforms have online payments built in. Here are some of our favorites:

          • Harvest
            This is what our parent company, Simple Focus, is currently using to track time and send invoices. It's super easy to use.
          • Freshbooks
            This is what Simple Focus used to use. It's great for small, growing businesses who want to look professional and streamline invoicing.
          • Quickbooks Online
            Yuck, right? As an industry giant, we have to include them, and they did just redesign their online product (it's actually not that bad).
          • Less Accounting
            We're friends with these guys and Simple Focus designed their logo. They have super friendly customer service and a recently redesigned product.

          There are other great options out there, too. These are just the ones we've used.

          The Knight In Shining Armor Gets Paid In Advance

          Another way to improve cash flow is by reducing your receivables. Regardless of what you've been told, it's entirely possible to negotiate for upfront payments in the service industry. On larger projects, you can still break payments into milestones, but put them in front of the work rather than behind it.

          And yes, big companies are willing to negotiate their payments terms, even with small businesses. You won't get it if you don't ask for it.

          The Emperor Uncovers His Hidden Expenses

          Sometimes, we all just accept that wasted expenses are a part of business. But, we don't have to accept that. One of the most obvious ways to improve your cash flow position is to look for places where you business is spending unnecessary money and simply stop spending that money.

          One quick method is to go down your credit card and bank statements and look for recurring fees for things you don't use any more. In addition to this super simple method, there are also some great tools for automatically analyzing your expenses. Here are some of our favorites:

          • Mint
            Mint ties in to your bank accounts and visualizes everything very nicely and shows you where you spend your money based on categories.
          • Personal Capital
            This company lets you connect your bank and investment accounts as well, but they also have financial advisors who are relentless about trying to help you out. They're interested in helping you with your entire portfolio, so if you're looking to do a little financial planning in addition to managing your cash flow, check them out.

          Sweet Dreams, Fellow Business Owners...

          At Pulse, we're running a business, too, so we know how tough it can be to make payroll, pay vendors and keep up with taxes, not to mention investing in capabilities, company culture and employee retention. These simple tips are meant to help give you the extra control over your cash flow so you can relax and stay in control. Sleep well tonight, you have a lot of work to do tomorrow!

          ]]>
          Color Coding Projected Income and Expenses https://pulseapp.com/blog/color-coding-projected-income-and-expenses Tue, 15 Apr 2014 00:00:00 -0500 simplefocus https://pulseapp.com/blog/color-coding-projected-income-and-expenses Sometimes, we get questions from customers about how to accomplish something that Pulse wasn't made to do. Since Pulse is such a simple and abstract platform for cash flow management, you can use a little creativity and change the way you use it to accomplish something.

          A customer wrote in recently:

          "I'm trying to find a way to mark several income entries, which I know will be paid on a certain date, differently from the rest of my income, which I'm not so sure about, but all my income looks the same. It would help if I could quickly see which income entries are going to be paid and which ones are estimated."

          If you want to look at your cash flow and quickly know the difference between what income or expenses are definite and which ones are just projections, you can use the color coding feature of our financial accounts to accomplish this. It's a little more work, but it gives great results.

          Try using two or three financial accounts—you might name one of them "Firm Receivables" and the other "Loose Receivables." Of course, name them any way you want…any time a projected income item is actually paid, you can edit it to reflect actual date paid and keep it in one of those two accounts, or an even cleaner approach would be to move it to another account called "Actuals."

          If you have a creative way of using Pulse, let us know!

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          Why Your Startup Needs Pulse for Cash Management https://pulseapp.com/blog/why-your-startup-needs-pulse-for-cash-management Thu, 10 Apr 2014 00:00:00 -0500 simplefocus https://pulseapp.com/blog/why-your-startup-needs-pulse-for-cash-management This guest post from business consultant Don Dalrymple explains why your business needs to be concerned about your cash flow and how Pulse can help you take control of you finances.

          A hope and a dream can go a long way to motivate an entrepreneur, but it soon fades as a way to manage a growing business in the daily realities of cash management.

          It's often said that cash is the life blood of a growing business. In a world where the landscape changes quickly, this has never been more true. Your unseen competitor or the lack or adoption of your new product can cause your business to have to pivot quickly.

          • What if you have to spend more on a strategy you did not anticipate?
          • What if you have to invest in resources in order to win new business?
          • What if you have to take more risk because the game has changed?

          These are questions that need more than a gut decision. You have to know your cash position at any given time to be able to make an informed and confident decision.

          Furthermore, you need to be able to anticipate different scenarios and know what kind of risk you would be taking.

          This is why you need Pulse for cash management and forecasting your cash decisions.

          Unlike accounting software and financial analysis, Pulse helps you see what could happen in the future and the impacts that can happen from different scenarios. Here are a few ways this powerful tool helps business owners and CFO's make informed and empowering decisions:

          Quantify the loss of a customer.

          Sometimes it may be necessary to let a difficult customer go. Other times a customer may not want to continue to do business. Pulse helps business owners and managers to understand how much of an impact on cash flow this will have.

          Know how much money you need by when.

          Setting specific sales goals based on what is required for healthy operations ties your performance to your cash needs. It makes your goals real. Managers can tie their revenue targets to monthly cash cushions.

          Avoid feast and famine.

          Having a roller coaster of cash flow can defocus your team on larger business goals. Having a clear picture of where the dips are in your cash flow can help you come up with strategies to curb those dips far ahead of time.

          Play out cost cutback scenarios.

          Know what would happen if you removed some monthly expenses that may be more of a convenience than necessity. Pulse can help a business visualize what would happen and how much cash would conceivably be freed up with expense reduction decisions.

          Anticipate profits and distributions.

          Whether you need to find out how much of an owner's draw that can be taken or repayment to investors, Pulse allows for a quantifiable communications to stakeholders in the business.

          Furthermore, anyone that needs to be tied into the financial picture of a business can readily see real-time information and future cash management impacts with their own login. This opens up collaboration and communication and makes the future clear rather than guesswork.

          Running a business is hard enough when it comes to selling, product development and managing people. One area that can be made much easier is cash management.

          The simple and powerful nature of Pulse can change the trajectory of a business' success with a commitment to seeing the future rather than being beholden to what is otherwise nebulous.

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          How boldUnderline Uses Pulse to Stay Financially Strong https://pulseapp.com/customer-stories/case-study-boldunderline Tue, 03 Sep 2019 14:12:00 -0500 simplefocus https://pulseapp.com/customer-stories/case-study-boldunderline A couple of weeks ago we asked for companies using Pulse to help us out by becoming a case study for how they use Pulse. The first in the series comes from Valon Sopi, founder of boldUnderline.com.

          Tell us about yourself and your business.

          Valon Hi. My name is Valon Sopi and I am a university educated graphic and web user interface designer. I am also the founder of boldUnderline, LLC in Prishtina (Republic of Kosova) - a boutique web-design studio that creates aesthetic and functional websites for clients in the public and private sector.

          What were the reasons that lead you to start using Pulse?

          Our finances were all over the place. Complicated Excel sheets, hand-written calculations, imaginary forecasts, self-created charts, and periodic walks to the bank, just to name a few, were how money was managed.

          As a business owner I wanted our financial department to be the leading catalyst in our daily operations, because I knew from experience that a healthy cash-flow leads to a great product and service. So, to stay competitive and financially strong we had to start searching for a robust application that was free of clutter and without all the distracting bells and whistles. Once we signed up for Pulse, it didn’t take long to commit.

          One of my personal favorites in Pulse, is the ‘Week View’ of Cash Flow, which is a magnified version of the Monthly approach.

          Describe how you use Pulse and how it fits within your accounting workflow.

          We use Pulse for two reasons. The first is one is to monitor the actual cash-flow of our firm and the second one is to forecast and plan our firm’s financial future.

          As for the first one: Pulse helps us monitor the heart-rate of our business and reconcile our monthly operational expenses. What this does is assist us in scheduling each incoming payment accordingly and know exactly what to charge and what discounts we can afford.

          As for the second: Pulse helps us measure up various projections in regards to generating new business and hiring new staff. By simply entering our data in Pulse we can forecast in real-time the firm’s financial future.

          Also, we can monitor our profits and expenses for each specific project. This in turn helps us become more agile in our pricing practices and stay competitive in the market.

          What do you like most about Pulse?

          Before deciding on going with Pulse I was personally testing out few other web applications that offered somewhat of a similar service. However, what I noticed in all of them was that they all lacked the intuitive user interface, which ranked Pulse way above of its competition. The ease of use, creating new categories on the fly, marking payments as one time or repeated, are just a few elements that help us sustain the financial health of our firm.

          One of my personal favorites in Pulse, is the ‘Week View’ of Cash Flow, which is a magnified version of the Monthly approach. This screen tells us the exact date of all incoming and outgoing payments, which in turn guides us with our financial undertakings.

          Also, reports, visual charts, cash-on-hand (beginning of the month), and other nicely designed and functional perks make me a devoted fan of Pulse.

          Overall, using Pulse is almost like having a full-time financial advisor for a very small monthly fee.

          How has Pulse helped your business?

          Pulse teaches us how to talk money within the firm as well as with our clients. It helps us know how far we can push financially, and where our limits are, without compromising our firm’s overall financial goals.

          Overall, most of our income depends on the time it takes to finish a task. In this sense Pulse is a perfect assistant that helps us stay afloat and explore new waters.

          Is there anything else you’d like to add?

          Pulse is a great tool that is constantly upgrading with each new release. The guys at Pulse truly know their stuff. Overall, using Pulse is almost like having a full-time financial advisor for a very small monthly fee. Any business of our size, freelancer, or even a bigger firm can reap the benefits of Pulse and know exactly where the money is.

          You have no idea how a simple and specific financial picture can put your business for that much more ahead.

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          Bureau of Digital Uses Pulse to Control Cash Flow https://pulseapp.com/customer-stories/case-study-bureau-of-digital Tue, 03 Sep 2019 14:11:00 -0500 simplefocus https://pulseapp.com/customer-stories/case-study-bureau-of-digital Bureau of Digital

          Carl Smith runs Bureau of Digital, an ultra-influential community of creative and digital agency owners.

          Bureau of Digital is making the web as collaborative as possible through events, learning, and sharing. Their portfolio of events includes Owner Camp, Biz Dev Camp, Digital PM Summit and many more.

          After running a successful agency, Carl Smith bought Bureau of Digital and brought along Lori to help support their events and keep up with the finances using Pulse.

          Tell us about your business.

          The Bureau of Digital is an events and education company for digital professionals. It’s a peer-based support networking for digital owners that didn’t go to school for what they now do. It puts them in a room with 30-100 other people to share their journey and give advice to one person while learning from someone else. Our source main revenue comes from ticket sales.

          Why did you come back to Pulse?

          I used Pulse with nGen for many many years, but then I bought the Bureau of Digital from Greg Hoy in June of 2016. We work with a great CPA firm, but I’m not that sophisticated and I hate spreadsheets.

          My journey back to Pulse started with a couple of months that didn’t go so well – I knew in my gut that something wasn’t going well. The problem was, I couldn’t start from the cash flow spreadsheets because I was convinced that there was a problem in there but I couldn’t find it. There was no way to drill up to a high level. A seasoned accounting professional could find it, but it wasn’t there for me – I had to start from scratch.

          After going from spreadsheet to spreadsheet, I talked to Lori and said, “Get us back into Pulse because I know how it works and it’s easy.”

          In Pulse, I can make a decision by unchecking a box next to an event and see if it’s going to kill our cash flow. In a spreadsheet, I have to highlight all this crap and I don’t know what the hell is going on. I was feeling out of control and I knew that Pulse would give me that control back.

          Lori: We reconcile all the incoming and outgoing cash from Xero. We had spreadsheets with all this information, but I couldn’t see where the numbers were coming from. Carl couldn’t tell that he needed to put money in the bank to cover a future event. So if he has everything in there, he can see that the bank account looks low in March so we need to start selling the tickets for June’s event now.

          I was feeling out of control and knew that Pulse would give me that control back.

          Carl: What I wasn’t getting from those spreadsheets was the control. It’s the simplicity, elegance and ability to answer a question quickly.

          As an owner - especially if you’re running any type of business that can change really quickly – you need the ability to find those answers and act right away – not spend a month finding an answer.

          Describe how you use Pulse and how it fits into your accounting workflow.

          Carl: Bureau is more of a product company, so we did have to hack Pulse a little bit. We put in our projections, and as things change, we go in and change the numbers to reflect the real stuff.

          Lori: I list expenses by event. I’ve got all our expenses for an event, but I’ve pieced it together the way Carl and I want it to work - not the way we used it at nGen.

          Carl: I gotta tell you, when you see the depth of what Lori’s done, Pulse looks like a powerhouse. For the most part, the beauty of Pulse is its simplicity. Even though Lori’s got every individual payment in there, with hundreds and hundreds of transactions a month – because you have a high-level drill-down – it still just feels manageable.

          How has Pulse helped your business?

          It allows me to answer questions really quickly. For example, we know that we’re running a little behind our goals, but if I know that I have an event and I know roughly how that event did, it’s really easy for me to replicate that event and see how that affects my bottom line.

          If sales are looking low for a big event in October, then I can adjust our sales numbers for the next two months based on what I’ve been seeing to tell me if I’m in trouble or not.

          What’s the most important thing you get from Pulse?

          Pulse gives me simple control. I know that if I look backward (in Pulse), I’m looking at reality. If I look forward, I’m looking at projections.

          Having both of those in the same view is great because I know that I’m only looking at half a guess. When reality hits at the end of the week and I see that our projections were not far off from our actual numbers, I have so much confidence in the remaining numbers.

          At that point, I can think about taking everyone to a Marlins game and focus on the value my company provides instead of worrying about the revenue side.

          I can…focus on the value my company provides instead of worrying about the revenue side.

          Lori: The biggest thing that we needed to see was that because we float so many of our expenses on a credit card, Carl needs to see the up and down of the cash flow. He needs to see when we project money coming in versus when money has to go out and to see that outgoing cash flow as accurate as it could be in a projection.

          Because I like numbers so much, the first thing I do every morning whenever I start work is to make sure that the amount of money in the bank is the same amount that we have in Pulse and Xero. It usually doesn’t take me more than 30 minutes, but because we have ticket sales every day I reconcile the projected with the actuals. That may be overkill, but it lets us go in at any time and look at an accurate cash flow.

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          How RealtyNinja Uses Pulse to Avoid Stress About Cash Flow https://pulseapp.com/customer-stories/case-study-realtyninja Tue, 03 Sep 2019 14:12:00 -0500 simplefocus https://pulseapp.com/customer-stories/case-study-realtyninja Tell us about yourself and your business.

          My name is Casimir Loeber and I am co-founder of RealtyNinja. We are a creative agency that specializes in custom web design and development, print and graphic design. We are a tight team that prides itself in our agility and ability to come up with a solution to almost any visual or technical problem. We are located in Vancouver, B.C. Canada and serve clients around the globe.

          What were the reasons that lead you to start using Pulse?

          As most entrepreneurs will know, there are never enough hours in the day to do the work that pays the bills, let alone the behind the scenes work most of us hate to do. Both my business partner and myself knew from the beginning that we were not the accountant types or even good bookkeepers. What we did know how to do was preserve the paper trail and plug numbers into websites. This lead us to pulse which allowed us to visualize our cash flow before our brains turned to snow with receipts, spread sheets and accordion folders.

          If we have a large prospect on the horizon we take 2 seconds to put it in Pulse to see how it effects us; simple as that.

          Describe how you use Pulse and how it fits within your accounting workflow.

          Before we had a bookkeeper we would simply export our invoice totals from our invoicing system (Freshbooks!) and enter these values as income in pulse. We were pretty good with our expense paper trails and would just go through our credit card and cheque book for these values. As things started to ramp up and consume more time, we hired a bookkeeper and gave her the keys to our pulse account. She was able to pick it up in no time and now all we do is log in every couple of days to see where we are, where we are headed and where we came from. If we have a large prospect on the horizon we take 2 seconds to put it in pulse to see how it effects us; simple as that.

          What do you like most about Pulse?

          What I like most about pulse is that it turns something that is very number heavy and hard to visualize into something that is easy to look at. I can take a quick look at my Pulse account and see exactly where we miscalculated on a quote and how long it took us to recover from that. The reporting functionality is definitely the strong point with pulse and has the potential to be expanded in many great directions.

          I can take a quick look at my Pulse account and see exactly where we miscalculated on a quote and how long it took us to recover from that.

          How has Pulse helped your business?

          Pulse has taken the fear and stress out of cash flow projection and management. It has seriously made it so that I can sleep better knowing that I am not going to randomly run out of cash tomorrow. It is easy to learn and easy to teach, so integrating it into our work flow was not an issue at all.

          Is there anything else you’d like to add?

          I want to say 2 last things. The first being that seeing the blue line climb upwards and the green bars tower over the red, makes me want to dance. Secondly, I can’t wait to see what the people at Pulse will cook up next.

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          How nGen Works Uses Pulse to Make Better Business Decisions https://pulseapp.com/customer-stories/case-study-ngen-works Tue, 03 Sep 2019 14:15:00 -0500 simplefocus https://pulseapp.com/customer-stories/case-study-ngen-works Tell us about yourself and your business.

          nGen Works is a digital creative firm that provides web design, web development and internet marketing consulting services to clients in the U.S. and abroad. We are an unwavering proponent of the user experience, putting people before technology. We’re also the creators of Happy Webbies and like to drink beer. And play video games.

          Carl Smith is the founding member of nGen Works, a digital creative firm that has been building some of the world’s finest hand-crafted websites since 2003. Carl has made a name for himself in the web world by always defending the needs and wants of the end-user. He has been privileged to lead teams that have been awarded the New York Art Directors Award For Interactive Development, The Hospitality Industry’s Best of Show Award, two National C.A.S.E. awards for Educational Web Development. He has also been featured in Kelly Goto’s best selling book Web Redesign: Workflow That Works. Carl spends most of his free time complaining about sites that say “click here,” chasing his daughters, and praying they never make Spiderman 4.

          What were the reasons that lead you to start using Pulse?

          I started using Pulse to kill that sick feeling in my stomach when I didn’t know if we would make payroll. Being in an industry full of 50/50 payment projects, or getting paid in thirds, it can be super confusing when money will come in. Receivables don’t tell half the story, or even a third sometimes. So I went looking for a solution and low and behold I found Pulse.

          Ultimately [Pulse] helps me see potential outcomes as I play with “what if” scenarios.

          Describe how you use Pulse and how it fits within your accounting workflow.

          Basically I use Pulse separately from our accounting system. As the business owner, it’s really my toy and my baby. I manually update when it looks like cash will come in and variations in payables. Sometimes I look at how cashflow from a project will impact us and decide if we really want a project, or if a client starts acting up what the impact will be if we walk away. Thanks to Pulse I know right now we’re solid through May of 2010 so we can take 2 weeks off as a company at the end of the year. Without Pulse I might not be as confident in that decision. It also helps when looking at employee bonuses and planning for conferences. Ultimately it helps me see potential outcomes as I play with “what if” scenarios.

          What do you like most about Pulse?

          The flexibility. It’s so easy to add or remove a project, or shift a receivable or expense. It’s also easy on the eyes which is a plus for us. It’s funny, but I’ve shown it to colleagues and clients because I think it helps position us as a smart business. Hopefully I’ve turned a lot of people onto Pulse.

          It’s funny, but I’ve shown it to colleagues and clients because I think it helps position us as a smart business.

          How has Pulse helped your business?

          Pulse makes nGen Works smarter. We make better decisions because we can see further. You could say it’s lowered our stress level by removing the fear of not knowing.

          Is there anything else you’d like to add?

          I speak quite a bit about establishing trust with users, and I use Pulse as an example. I asked you to provide the ability to zero out over a year ago and you ended up adding that feature in. You had me as a customer at that point because you listened.

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          Case Study: Subvert Marketing Inc. https://pulseapp.com/customer-stories/case-study-subvert-marketing-inc Tue, 03 Sep 2019 14:17:00 -0500 simplefocus https://pulseapp.com/customer-stories/case-study-subvert-marketing-inc Tell us about yourself and your business.

          Subvert builds software and websites for clients in Northern Canada. We concentrate on the enterprise sector, serving mostly government and large corporations who need specialists to implement their complex technology or digital marketing plans.

          What were the reasons that lead you to start using Pulse?

          Lack of awareness about where our money was being spent and where it was coming from, month to month. When you’re balancing many different projects, some that last multiple years, it’s easy to be lulled into a situation where you just keep generating and spending in the same way you’ve always done.

          Pulse is complementary to our invoice and time tracking system because it gives me the high-level details, whereas the other system is more granular.

          That’s a dangerous position to get into because all of sudden, the rug from one project (or several) can get pulled out from underneath your feet and you’re left scrambling to find work to cover up the hole. With Pulse, we’re able to know where our receivables are at and when they will come in. If payment doesn’t arrive as expected - which as anyone in consulting services knows, happens quite often - we can be prepared with other revenue plans. Being able to know what our expenses are going to be three months down the road, also helps us sleep at night.

          Describe how you use Pulse and how it fits within your accounting workflow.

          I log into our Pulse account about once a week to see where things are at and make any necessary changes. Pulse is complementary to our invoice and time tracking system because it gives me the high-level details, whereas the other system is more granular. You need both views to make informed decisions.

          Pulse grants me peace of mind when I need it most.

          What do you like most about Pulse?

          Flexibility, speed and accessibility. I can get to the numbers that matter most, quickly and easily, from any computer and even my iPhone. Plus, it’s fun to use. Much more fun than our previous solution, Microsoft Excel.

          How has Pulse helped your business?

          Pulse grants me peace of mind when I need it most. If we’re feeling panicked about a situation or don’t have a good handle on where things are at financially, I can go to Pulse and, after a few minutes, know exactly what we need to do.

          Is there anything else you’d like to add?

          I’ve been using Pulse since it first came out, as the One Month App. When the option arrived to pay for an account, I ponied up for a subscription right away. Pulse is worth every penny, much more than we put on a monthly basis, because it empowers business owners with critical financial insight and knowledge.

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